Many small businesses that use social media to grow more quickly go through an initial pain barrier. Few understand its benefits straight away: many try it out and then let their efforts wither, feeling that social media is something that they can return to when they “have more time”.And because they are always busy, they never do.
It’s time to think differently. Try instead to think of social media not as an extra item on the “To Do” list but as a new and quicker operating system, with SMEs on small marketing budgets the most obvious beneficiaries. Thought of in this way, social media gives you a means to help you find your buyers, listen more effectively to customers and win new business more easily –and save you time in the process.
Social media may be a brand new operating system, but success in using it is based on reassuringly old and trusted principles. Here’s how to make the most of it. First, just banish for a moment all the tactical talk of the bewildering array of social media channels available (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and hundreds of others.). Secondly, step back from the never ending stream of information pulsing through the veins of each. Finally, just keep asking the same 3 basic questions of any business had social media had never existed: “Where are my buyers?”; “What do they want?”; and “Why should they buy from us?” Then apply the answers to put social media to the “don’t have time” test.
- Where are my buyers? If your buyers reallydon’t use social media, then don’t use it. Don’t though make it an excuse for inaction – there are few markets where this is still true. The increase in the use is of social media spans every buyer group, demographic and market. And remember that those who influence their decisions – the journalists, PRs etc. –all use it in very large numbers across all social media platforms. You will have a sense of which social media vehicle your buyers prefer. Don’t be distracted by the latest platform – concentrate on the one where your buyers reside and you can reach them more quickly than ever before.
- What do my buyers want? Nothing will probably ever beat face-to-face contact with customers, but think of social media as the quickest and most comprehensive resource you will ever have ever have for understanding all sorts of trends affecting the way they think and feel when they decide whether to buy.
- Why should they buy from us? When a buyer isn’t sure who to trust, he turns to those he does. A word of mouth recommendation was, is and will always be the best way for a business to sell more. Social media can greatly accelerate the process.
Any successful business should be busy – the aim is surely always to be busy with bigger and better things. Using social media is not a panacea: you will always need to find your buyers, understand what they want and convince them that it is you they should trust – but it will help you address them more quickly. If you really don’t have time for social media, it’s probably because you’re too busy selling to buyers in less effective ways.
Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.