Small businesses and startups encounter a different set of challenges than larger companies when it comes to marketing. Resources are scarce and everything has to be leveraged. Enter social media. Leverage is one of the key, if not the key, advantages of social media. Social not only leveled the playing field for small businesses and startups, but also provided an opportunity to showcase attributes not as easily defined or nimbly parlayed in/from larger organizations. These attributes are personality, character, and community.
Surely, you are already active on social media. That much we assume. As you enter Spring 2013, now is a good time to do some spring cleaning on your social media channels and refresh your profiles to prepare for a year of success and opportunity.
There are five questions every small business and startup should ask itself when considering its social media presence. These are…
Who is your audience?
Such a simple question! Such a complex answer! The answer is slightly more complicated than the question because each social media channel has a slightly different use and user. Your content should be geared toward your audience…the questions they are asking, the information they need, the stuff they want to read and talk about. Start by defining your audience as a whole, and then consider which social channels they are most likely to use.
What kind of community do you want to create, if any?
Whether you have an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or all of the above, these social channels all allow you to create a virtual community. The focus, cohesiveness, and engagement of the community is up to you. Consider the kind of community you want to create, as well as how much time you are willing to commit to nurturing it. Most importantly, consider your voice. Your voice will be the literal tone of your community and help you forward your objectives for it. Of course, your voice will be mostly determined by your organization’s personality. So, who are you?
What is your organization’s personality?
Ahh, the ultimate question! In my 15 years of experience, I have found this to be one of the most challenging questions businesses of all sizes face. While this wasn’t such a big deal before social media when an organization’s “voice” was only heard in highly produced, hyper-scripted, and very expensive television commercials, today it is essential. Social media demands a personality, a voice, character and a predefined scope. The innate casual nature of social media, has been the reason behind many-a-blunder. Your organization’s personality however, is about more than just voice, it is about an image you want to project. This image should be in line with your organization’s values, and the values of your audience. Keep this in mind as you answer this particular question.
What are your business and communications objectives?
These are two of the most important questions your organization will ever ask itself, but they are essential in determining efficacy in almost every organizational endeavor. What do you want to achieve from a business perspective? What do you want to communicate, and what do you want that communication to achieve? How widely known are these specific objectives inside your organization?
Which social media tool best accomplishes your objectives?
Each social media channel has a slightly different audience and can be used differently. When looking at the social media landscape whether for the first time or if you’re reevaluating, the key thing to keep in mind is to be strategic about which social media channels you choose for your organization. Which channel you can leverage most effectively and efficiently will depend on:
- Objectives- both business and communications
- Target market
- Type of engagement or community you want to build
- Time you have to dedicate to manage your profile(s)
There are many social networks and channels out there, and yesterday, YouTube announced it had hit one billion monthly users! The other top channels are:
- Facebook with more than 750 million unique visitors each month
- Twitter with approximately 250 million users
- LinkedIn with 110 million visitors per month
- Google+ with about 65 million users
- Pinterest with about 30 million unique visitors