Choosing Wisely – The 5 Most Effective Social Media Platforms For Small Businesses

Social Media is a band wagon we’ve all jumped on because you can’t miss out on an opportunity to promote your business and engage with your customers.
Time and money are always issues when managing small and medium enterprises, which means the cliche “work smarter not harder”,  is more true.  When it comes social media, you’ll have to develop some smart tactics, because it’s not “an instead of”,  it’s an “as well as”.  You’ll need to add social media to whatever other marketing strategies you currently have.
But honestly who has time to do it all?  Don’t worry, you don’t need to. You just have to choose your “demons” carefully and wisely.  And there are a lot of “demons”. Just take a quick look at the latest list of social media networks from Wikipedia. Don’t despair.  You don’t need them all.
Get people knocking at your door
with an integrated Social Media strategy
Malta – 2004

Here are my top five. All – you still have to choose – essential to any SME’s marketing arsenal.

1.  Obvious first choice is  your website – Top of the list because everyone has one now so you have too.   It’s practically prehistoric not to have one.  Your website is your big “Hello, I’m over here. Nice to meet you. Let’s do business”.  You’ll use all other social media applications to drive traffic to your website and therefore to you.

2.  Second contender is Twitter because it’s a easy platform to use (a bit harder to use well and do make the effort). It’s extremely flexible as you can tweet when you have time and you don’t have to commit huge chucks of time to it.  Tweeting can be done as and when necessary – but of course consistently and with purpose. 
You can also automate tweets but do be careful not to alienate your clientele.
You can get up and running with a Twitter account relatively quickly. Be sure to use a Twitter management system to optimize your account. My preference is Hootsuite (primarily for its mobility as it’s a web based application).  Tweetdeck and Seesmic are other options.
3.   Your blog. These are an excellent marketing tool because you can describe your product and services (or whatever you wish) in greater depth. A blog will take more effort on your part to develop and will take a longer time to find its audience.4.  Google+.  My new favourite place.  Brilliant for us organised types who love to put things into boxes (or Circles) and it’s great for finding people/groups with similar interests.  Personally I love its visual nature.  I can see interesting (or not so interesting) posts from my contacts and make immediate decisions about what to do next with minimal effort.

Use Social Media effectively
to bring people to your door
Lille, France – 2008
5.  Facebook BUSINESS page – I emphasize Business Page as Profiles are for people and not designed for promoting businesses.   Please stop using your personal for your business.  I’m one of those people who keep my personal and business Facebook pages separate.  If you don’t use Business pages, I won’t “Like” you.  I’m not alone.

  I’ve recently moved away Facebook as there are serious concerns about this platform. Also there is only so much time and time spent on Facebook for me isn’t as valuable as time spent elsewhere.

The good news is you can often feed one Social Media tool into another.  The more you link up your resources the tighter and more effective your presence on the Internet will be.

For example – You can feed your website and blog links and your news into Facebook, but don’t include your Twitter feed.  Facebook is for longer, less frequent articles and people are put off being bombarded with tweets, which should be more prolific.  Tweets are very much the advertising/announcement of “it’s happening now”.   Facebook links have a longer lifespan and people will spend more time reading these pages.  Your Business page will take longer to find and establish its audience than your Twitter following. BUT (big but) be careful not to be overly repetitive.  Repeat some of your content across your Social Media platforms BUT ensure you offer something unique in each place.
Final note – it’s worth investing some time in establishing your branding and ensuring that your identity is coherent and homogeneous; making social media a part of your complete package.
This is more than enough to get you started.
Good luck
J

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