Resources: Small Biz Social -Where to start?

Small Business Social Media…Where Do I Start?

For those who have not ventured into the online social world, the idea of entering it for your business may seem daunting. Indeed there are hundreds of networks out there and a myriad of tools to help you manage them, and more of each are popping up every day. Wading through the options can be time consuming and even confusing. Often it’s hard to know where to start.

One thing that should point you in the right direction is answering this question: Where are my customers participating? Do many of your customers have a Facebook account? If so, this may be a good place to try and communicate with them. Facebook also gives a business the option of creating advertising that can be targeted to specific groups by a variety of demographics. Facebook knows about its users based on information they offer at sign up as well as interests they express through their “likes” and installed applications. If some of your customers are already using it, chances are you might find other potential customers who are too.

Facebook may be a good option for some companies, however, not every business needs a Facebook account. If your company is generally a B2B operation, you might want to look for a more business-oriented network like Linkedin. Linkedin allows you to set up both a company profile where you can promote your products and services and a resume’-like personal profile where you can list your accomplishments, specialties, and overall skills. It also offers the opportunity to take part in discussions and groups where you can offer your expertise, ask for opinions, and get answers to your questions. Linkedin is professional networking, online.

Facebook and Linkedin individually or in combination may be a good way to get your business into the online social sphere but there are other things to consider. Does your company need a blog or an online video channel? Are there conversations about your business happening on Twitter? If you have a website, where does that fit into your outreach plan?

If you are new to social media and doing this on your own, take care to not get overwhelmed. Find the entry point that best suits your business and build a presence there. Once you have a handle on that, you will be in a better position to make decisions about where to go next. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that once you create this channel, you will need to keep it current. A poorly maintained social network can be more of a detriment than a benefit.

In addition to promoting your brand, your social presence will be a new avenue through which you can educate your consumers, provide customer service, and offer something of value. Making your business social online does take time and effort but it will allow you to step into the arena where many of your competitors already are or will soon be. People are talking. This is your opportunity to get in on the conversation!