For small and micro businesses like us here at Amberweb, social media is more an investment of time than money. The basic tools are free and minimum technical skills are needed to get started, so with a few hours a week, any small or micro business owner is able to jump on the social media bandwagon.
However, a poorly executed social media campaign can actually do your business reputation more harm than good. So before you start, ask yourself if you are realistically able to commit a few hours a week to social media not just for the first few weeks, but on an ongoing basis. If the answer is ‘no’ and you are really pushed for time, then rather than making a half-hearted attempt at social media just because everyone else seems to be doing it, put it on the back burner and invest any spare time in improving the content and user experience on your company website.
Alternatively, an option would be to work with a freelance social media professional who can assist you with preparing and moderating content for your business’ social pages on a regular basis. But whatever you do, don’t spend hours developing a Facebook page, a blog, a Twitter account, etc only to find yourself two weeks later too busy to maintain and moderate your social sites. All your hard work will go to waste as people lose interest in your out of date content.
But, if you have done your research and decided that social media could benefit your business, and that you have the time to invest in getting it right, then here are some dos and don’ts to consider before you start.
Social media for small and micro business – DO
Make your posts interesting, informative and insightful.
Apply the same professional standards to social media communications as you would for any other business communication, so always check for typos, obvious factual errors, or misspellt names.
Answer all comments within a reasonable time limit, eg two working days. Always be friendly, helpful, polite and professional.
Keep up to date with trending topics, and incorporate them into your news items.
Use a tool like Hootsuite to preschedule Facebook updates and tweets for a time when your audience will be online but you may not be.
Encourage feedback and comments from users. You can reuse any positive user generated content in future advertising or on your website.
Measure activity on your social sites, as you would with any marketing or promotional activity, and use the results to drive future campaigns or projects, or to determine how much time you invest in social media as a business.
Add a Facebook ‘like’ button to your company website, remember each new like is a powerful recommendation for your product or service.
Social media for small and micro businesses – DON’T
Don’t be boring, self-promoting, irrelevant or repetitive.
Never leave posts unanswered, even if they are negative. One of the most frustrating things for a customer is an unanswered complaint or question.
Don’t post 20 times in the first fortnight then neglect your site for a month. People will lose interest and your hard work will be wasted. Create a realistic schedule and stick to it (use a tool like Hootsuite to preschedule your tweets/posts).
Don’t rush to create a company presence on every single social media site, think quality not quantity.
Don’t spend all your time just retweeting or sharing other people’s content. It’s more effective if you add your own expert opinion, comment or analysis.
Never post in haste or you will repent at leisure… A sloppily written, rude or incorrect tweet or Facebook post will leave a bad impression on your customers, and if it has already been shared or retweeted, it will be virtually impossible to erase it completely from cyberspace – you have been warned!
What are your best and worst experiences of social media by businesses big and small?
Do you think social media for small & micro businesses is a waste of time? Or time well spent?
I would be really interested to hear your comments. And thank you to Susan Hoy and Antonio Abati for commenting on my post last week and giving me some fresh ideas for this week’s post.
Until next week, Emma.