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Is Your Business Big Enough For Social Media?

Social media is still finding its place in the fabric of American culture, but already it has become an integral tool in business. Pew Research Center stated that as of 2014, 74 percent of American adults reported using at least one social media platform, and for Millennials, that number jumps to 89 percent.

From the biggest corporations to a budding start-up to a freelance consultant or writer, social media is a way to control your message and build a public identity. Although your small business may need to stay focused on more concrete things like product development, developing a basic social media strategy is a good idea.

The benefits
Using sites like Facebook or Twitter to connect with consumers or clients allows your business to build an interactive brand, and social media represents a unique and low-cost marketing tool.

According to Social Media Examiner, social media is beneficial for businesses of all sizes because it increases exposure and helps drive traffic to your website. Even just engaging with one network is a great way to establish your company's identity and build a loyal constituency. This can be especially important if your competitors are also online because it is a way to showcase what separates your businesses from similar ventures.

Unlike television or regular Internet advertisements, regular folks actively engage with social media, rather than tune out promotional content. A meaningful or memorable social media post could help convert a potential consumer and build a positive relationship in the process. Likewise, Acronym reported that a good social media strategy can help improve your primary website's SEO and overall visibility.

Getting started
Before your business is ready to dominate your industry's social realm, understanding your target audience and the demographics of your potential clients or consumers is key for crafting the best, most effective messages.

Identify the types of people you wish to attract to your webpage or business. Establish who they are, how they think and most importantly, what your company can say or offer that will entice them to visit your website and even become a customer.  

According to Social Media Examiner, writing down and developing an internal brief on your target audience is essential for maintaining consistency and clarity as you move forward with your social media strategy. 

Social media may feel carefree and informal, but in reality having a clear-cut plan and set of guidelines is very important for maximizing your brand visibility and is also crucial for avoiding any embarrassing slip-ups.

Don't overlook the importance of your social media campaign and delegate the responsibilities to an intern or otherwise post without purpose or direction. Control your message and craft each tweet or LinkedIn blurb with care.

Selecting the right platform
For small businesses, it makes most sense to focus on just one social media site initially to make sure your outreach is methodical and effective. 

Pew found that Facebook is used by 71 percent of adult Americans that regularly use the Internet, and according to Social Media Examiner, 93 percent of businesses engaging in social media marketing use Facebook. 

Businesses of all types generally have some sort of presence on Facebook, from charities and youth groups to Fortune 500s and businesses that don't even sell consumer products. Odds are your company would benefit from at least a basic Facebook page.

Hub Spot reported that Facebook is an effective tool because it allows a wide variety of posts. Your business' Facebook page can drive traffic to your primary website, and also allows you to share videos, events and blog posts. 

Not only are social media sites useful because users are relaxed and more engaged, but Facebook and other platforms provide in-depth analytics about the effectiveness of each individual post. Information like the number of views, shares and overall reach are available to page administrators, and these can be used to craft more powerful messages in the future and improve your business' visibility.

Your team might not have anyone that is especially savvy when it comes to social media or marketing in general, but Facebook and the like come with tools that make adapting your strategy very possible. 

Accept feedback
Another reason social media is so valuable for businesses of all sizes is because consumers actively share their needs and criticisms of your products or message.

Some comments and interactions may be unkind or rude, but there will also be invaluable nuggets of authentic information that traditional market research might not otherwise turn up. Also, being interactive and responsive to your clients' needs helps build a good rapport and establish your brand as trustworthy.

Even small businesses can convert potential consumers with a successful social media post or reply, and so long as your team is being thoughtful and responsible with your social fingerprint, sites like Twitter are great for controlling your message.

Expand your network
Social Media Examiner reported that once you have found a rhythm and have built a sizeable base on Facebook or whatever first platform you chose, expanding to other sites is the next step. 

Again, your team should have time dedicated to managing your social media portfolio, and should only take on more responsibility if you have the time and personnel to do so in a meaningful way. For example, having a post about Halloween still at the top of your feed in December is not a good look, and making sure you have the resources to actively post to a new social platform is important.

Once you do chose to take on other social media sites, be sure to be consistent with your tone, online personality and message. The identity your build for your start-up or small business is important early on, and make sure to use social platforms to enhance and share that brand.

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