Social Media and Small Businesses

August 6, 2011

 One question that comes up time and time again from small businesses and start ups is 'do I need facebook if I have twitter?' or 'I have a website, why would I need one of those new sites?'.

As someone who sees the value of engagement in social media I find these questions somewhat frustrating to hear time and time again!
However when businesses adopt a social media strategy and get it right, it makes it all worth while.

To put it simply, you can build the biggest most lavish superstore in the world but without a community/customer base, your store is worthless. Websites and social media are exactly the same.
Websites provide a fantastic function as an information point, a sales tool, a brochure and a shop but it lacks one thing: community.

So take for example Tom's Trendy Tees. He has a nice website which sells all his funky designs. So customer X buys t-shirts off the site. He could visit on a weekly basis as could the occasional customer Y. Neither of these two customers know each other, know of each other or even that they are both frequent visitors. Now bring social media into the mix. Suddenly customer X can follow the t-shirt shop, can engage with other customers and even more important non customers can see where customer X and Y buy their funky t-shirts through link sharing.
This, I'm afraid, is a very shoddily put together example of how social media is a complementary part of an overall online presence. But it is vital.
So what Social media avenues should businesses use? There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to picking which channels to use. There is however, a rule to follow: whichever social media channel you decide to use, do that, USE it. So many businesses set up twitter pages, facebook pages, linkedin etc and then leave them sitting there gathering internet dust. The most successful businesses online are the ones which engage the most with their customers. Take KLM, the Dutch airline, they successfully use Twitter to announce delays, reunite lost bags with their owners, handle complaints and generally engage with their customers. Since they have adopted this, KLM have seen greater customer loyalty and higher standards of customer satisfaction.

For any small business wanting to join in with social media, a check list should be used.
1) Who are you targetting?
2) What is the purpose?
3) Who will manage it?
4) Is your business covered by specific laws?
5) What is your message you wish to send?
6) How much time are you going to dedicate to this?

If you answer all these questions honestly, you'll get a fair idea of what social media you should use. Now you need to make sure that the time you allocate to the task remains constant and is part of a medium to long term strategy. Social media does not give instant results but like any business relationship, has to be nurtured over time. The results will come. Consistency is key.

For more information Contact Us: Hello(at)sixdegrees(dot)ie

Eric Hennelly Flanagan, Six Degrees
Six Degrees is a marketing agency based in Galway, Ireland. It offers a full range of social media and marketing services tailored to suit the requirements of the client. We not only develop strategies to enhance and develop brands, but offer continued support and advice to maintain the momentum of any brand building exercise. Our focus is to deliver the maximum results to each of our clients, with a friendly personal service.