Social Media For Small Businesses

SocialMediaSmallBusinesses-2
Photo via Chris Lott

Every small business needs a Facebook account. And a Twitter feed. And a LinkedIn Profile. And a Pinterest page, and on, and on. What started as a fun way to engage your customers has turned into a beast. Every day you feel obligated to add followers, update your feeds, and otherwise tend to, and worry about, your social media presence lest it fall into disrepair and neglect. You wake up each morning racking your brain for something new to promote, or funny to share or, at least interesting to say that will keep your customers engaged.

If you’ve taken this immersive, hands-on approach to social media, you’re probably doing it wrong. Even if you’re a social media maven in your personal affairs, managing your business’s web presence requires your consistent and regular attention, creativity and spontaneity, and, most importantly, an overall strategy that will allow you to capitalize on your investment.

If you do not have a social media presence, or yours is currently collecting fake friends and spam ads, it’s not to late to start—or revive—what can be an effective part of your business’s marketing, customer relations, and sales efforts. Here are a few items to consider as you begin planning to make social media a bigger part of your business.

Budget Your Time

While Facebook may be fun and games for most of us, if you’re considering using Facebook, or any other social media site, for your business, you need to keep a clear head. Social media is a business tool, not a play thing, and you need to evaluate your return on investment (ROI). Earlier this year, the small business community Manta released a study that found that 48 percent of their members spent between one and five hours each week on social media activities. While 27 percent spent less an hour weekly on social media, 25 percent more than five hours weekly. While every business has its own needs, when you’re planning your social media strategy you need to make sure that you have enough resources, including time, to make this work. Starting out, you might budget an hour a day—for five hours a week—to give yourself a fighting chance online.

Know What You’ll Make

While you care about how much time you’ll spend building your social media presence, an even more critical number is how much money you’ll make. According to the same Manta survey, just under 40 percent of small businesses reported making a return on investment in social media, which means you have an uphill climb to make your investment worthwhile. For those who do make a return on investment, 53 percent report making between $100 and $2,000 for their efforts, while a lucky 30 percent reporting making more than $2,000 from their social media campaigns. These numbers, however impressive, don’t account from the customer good will you can gain from social media.

Keep Up With the Competition, and Get Help

Almost half of small businesses report spending more time on social media this year than last, with only seven percent reporting that they’ve reduced their social efforts, so if you’re not on social media yet, you need to start just to keep up with your competitors.

While it may be tempting to run everything yourself, you may find that pouring hours each week into running sites with little payoff gets old quickly. Involve your co-workers in your social media activities, budget your time, and hire designers, photographers, and videographers to produce compelling content that will keep your customers coming back to your site to see what you have to offer and you’ll be a success on social media in no time.

Are you hosting with us? Do you have any examples where social media has helped your business or freelance career grow?
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We’ll feature all the best examples in a post on May 29th!

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