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At one time considered a distraction by companies, today social media has proven it provides a competitive advantage. Companies, such as Google (GOOG) and Target (TGT), strategically employ social media to generate awareness and trigger purchases by consumers. Small business owners, who realize social media is not an initiative or project, but a way of doing business, capitalize on additional opportunities like larger companies using social media effectively.
Sometimes, small business owners approach social media like a person committing to exercise for a New Year’s resolution. At first, there is an initial motivation, which soon turns into discouragement after results are not instantaneous. Thinking ahead and building a plan with realistic expectations will increase the odds of achieving results from using social media.
Small business strategies misfire when selecting social media platforms based on the owner‘s personal taste. For example, the owner plays and loves basketball, so the company advertises in a sports magazine; however, the owner operates a bridal shop! Consider the company characteristics, the message in the content, the target audience, and the weaknesses and strengths of each social media platform to prioritize better and focus efforts.
Updating the content daily is vital to small business social media success. For example, have daily interaction allowing two way communications with current and prospective customers, offer expert advice and tips, or blog. The content needs to be relevant to the business offerings and the target market. Social media is accessible 24/7 and creating relevant up-to-date content informs and educates, which builds a reputation as an industry expert. Additionally, find an affordable Web-based service to monitor social media activity. As the buzz builds, set metrics aligned with strategies and objectives to assist in allocating staff and budget amounts to continuously growing a social media presence.
Someone should be in charge of trend watching, calendar creations, content development, writing and editing, which involve allocating time appropriately for success. According to Vertical Response, in a study surveying 462 small businesses, 43% spent more than six hours a week on social media management and 18% spent more than 10 hours a week. The biggest time constraint was content creation, and if blogging is part of the strategy, it takes even longer.
Start small to establish a social media presence, maybe implementing a Twitter strategy, allocating 10 minutes a day. As the buzz grows, taking a social media presence to new heights will require additional time and resources.