Social Media for Small Business - Is It Too Much?
By John Debar
While preparing to write this article, concerning whether or not a company needs to participate in every social media site available, I received an update about an emerging social website. After spending five minutes evaluating the site, I found myself in a trance as I contemplated the reality of our digital age and social media.
Is it too much? Even with a fabulous social management tool such as Hootsuite, small business owners might find themselves overwhelmed. The ambitious PR person in me says that you should participate and listen to every social network -- if you are a large conglomerate or you can afford a social management team. The small business owner in me says that you should focus only on the most popular and relevant social sites.
There are many decisions to be made for a small business's social media front. When choosing your online channels it is best to start with the 'no-brainers', such as Facebook and Twitter then work your way down the Top 10 list -- that is, if you want to go beyond Facebook and Twitter.
There are things to consider such as your investment of time, equipment, and software. YouTube is a great example. YouTube goes head to head with Facebook on traffic. It seems as though every company should have a YouTube account, but producing original and engaging content on YouTube takes an investment of time, equipment, and software.
YouTube is more of a frustration for me than anything else. It is loaded with low quality videos that have terrible sound, strange electrical feedback, and poor narration -- all of which have to do with time, equipment, and software. What kind of image do you think your company will project if you produce subpar 'how to' videos?
Then there is the social media overload factor. Have you ever visited a company website that displays their social media links... all 10 of them? There is nothing more amusing to me than following those links to find that the only platforms the company is engaged in are the top two or three. It's great that a company offers many channels by which a visitor can stay in touch, but if the company is not communicating on those social media channels, it becomes a useless icon on their website. This, in turn, might send your followers the wrong impression about your company.
My advice to all small business owners is to choose Facebook and Twitter, then ask the following questions concerning other channels:
- Is your target audience using that channel?
- Is the social media site relevant to your business' industry?
- Does the social media channel match your company's image?
- Can your business effectively engage an audience with that channel?
- Do you have the resources and skills to create quality content?
- Can you devote time to all the channels you choose?
Once you have chosen the most valuable and relevant channels, stay current and engage your audience regularly. There are many tools and services that can help your business manage its online communications. To do it yourself, you might want to consider Hootsuite and Tweet Deck. If you are too busy to wear the social media hat then you might want to consider hiring someone to do that for you.
Social media is worth the effort and it will provide a return on your investment! Just choose wisely and stick to it.
Thanks for reading!
~ John Debar
Learn more about social media for small business here.
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