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Social Media For Small Business Training - The Marketing ShopA question we’re asked on a regular basis and we’d of course answer with a resounding YES!

But, before you go off and create a facebook page or take up tweeting, we’d suggest that while Social Media may be right for your business that you really need to stop for a moment and consider which options are best suited to both your business and your industry.  Just as we’d never advocate a “one size fits all” approach to marketing or sales, the same applies to Social Media.  You need to find the right fit, so here’s a quick overview of the most popular options for you;

Facebook

With in excess of 800 million members worldwide, this is often the first port of call for those creating a presence on Social Media for the first time.  An effective tool for both B2B and B2C marketing, it’s worth noting that those with a target market of 20-something females looking for shoes will tend to grow a greater fanbase than those selling supplies to building contractors.  While it’s technically “free” it will require human resources and if it’s to become an effective sales or branding tool for your business, you will need to allocate a budget to applications or design to enable you to manage promotions or display a portfolio.

Twitter

A platform that many become practically hooked on whereas others can quit within a couple of weeks.  Twitter is first and foremost a conversational tool, somewhere to share, discuss and learn – or even follow your favourite celebrity.  The skill of negotiating the 140 character updates or tweets is quite the challenge but once you’ve mastered it, Twitter can be a fantastic boost to your brands online visibility.

Linkedin

Social networking, business style with colleagues, business associates, competitors, industry leaders and hopefully potential clients.  Linkedin is your professional self online, a place to network and display your professional credentials but unlike facebook, not your holiday snaps.  Creating a profile is however just one element of Linkedin, to garner a real benefit you’ve got to network by engaging in conversations, joining groups of business interest and actively making it work for you.  This is particularly effective if your customers are other businesses.

YouTube

One of the most highly trafficked sites in the world, people regularly log on to check out today’s most humorous videos or their favourite bands.  More recently however, it’s also become quite the platform to learn with video tutorials available on anything from how to create an excel spreadsheet to building a garden shed!  And, as we’re statistically up to ten times more likely to watch a video than a mere image, this could be the option for you.  Even better news is that you can upload from something as simple as a smartphone.

Flickr

Photographers, designers or any other business which relies on strong imagery should exploit the opportunities of sites such as Flickr amongst others.  Your images can be displayed to a market which may otherwise never have never come across you.  You can integrate them with your other social media and ultimately boost your visibility in search engines such as google.  Often overlooked, but an option that’s frequently used by businesses such as florists, bakers or clothing retailers.

Google Plus

Lastly for today we’re going to mention the new contender to the Social Media throne, in Google Plus or Google+ which since its launch in June 2011 has attracted in excess of 25 million members – especially fascinating when you consider that it’s still an invite only platform.  Ultimately, if you avail of Google Apps such as Gmail or Google Docs in the course of your day you may never need to leave a Google product in the course of the day.  At this point there isn’t an option to create a business page or profile (those who did found their accounts deleted for breaking the rules!!) but this is expected before the end of 2011.  At this point we’d recommend it as a Social Media platform for you or your staff (real names only accepted by the way) as in recent days it’s started to feature in google search results!

The above are by no means the only Social Media platform available, but they’re some of the most popular in Ireland so in most cases there will be an option amongst the above to suit your business.  We would suggest though that rather than simply making a decision based on our quick guide, that you ask the following of your business;

  • Will Social Media fit in or complement your existing marketing plan?
  • Who are your customers, other businesses or the general public?
  • Do you have the resources in-house to manage it effectively, or will you need to outsource?
  • What do you hope to achieve with Social Media?
  • How will your employees represent your company on Social Media?

Ultimately Social Media takes time, there’s no quick way to grow a huge fanbase that’s simply desperate to start buying from you.  You’re cultivating a community for your company and yes, you may not always like what you see.  Effective planning however gives you that invaluable engagement that traditional marketing will never deliver, ultimately leading to better brand awareness, untapped markets and long term a growth in sales.

As we’ve said previously, today’s post is a snap-shot of the considerations of whether Social Media really is right for your business.  If you’re still not quite sure, make sure to contact us to arrange a free consultation now to evaluate the options.

 

 

 

 

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