If your business isn’t using social media (social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), you’re probably feeling left behind. But as important as the experts will tell you social media is for your business, there are some things you should consider before jumping onboard.
Firstly you need to find out if your customers are using social networks. You know who your customers are, but do you know if they are using social media? Search for conversations about your products, or for locations of users to see if they live near your business. Also look at your competitors and other entities in your industry, to see if they have a following on social networks. Basic research like this will indicate if your audience is there.
Next, include social media in your communications plan. This ensures the objectives in your plan can be delivered by the activities you’ll be conducting through social networks. Therefore you’ll be utilising social media with purpose and strategy.
Any activities you conduct through social media should add value to your brand and provide benefits for your customers. You should be listening to what people are saying about your business, brand and products. Gauge their needs, wants and problems. Then engage responsively, with solutions, offers and content, which may assist or be of interest to them.
When a customer talks about your business or products on social networks, keep in mind this is in the public eye. You’ll need to be ready to deal with criticism and negative feedback, in a responsive, respectable and accountable manner. Here lies an opportunity to provide a helpful response and turn a poor customer experience into a good one.
Finally, social media takes time and effort, so make sure you are well resourced, with the people, knowledge and direction so it can be done properly. Going in half-baked will be noticed by your customers very quickly and will do your brand more harm than if you weren’t using social media at all.
So if your business isn’t ready for social media, don’t sweat it. Take the time to assess if your business is the right fit. Then when its the right time, make social media part of your communications arsenal.