Is social media appropriate for start-ups or small businesses? For that matter, is it appropriate for everyone?
I would argue that not every business can make successful use of today’s social media tools. Some businesses just aren’t ready, others don’t have the manpower required and others have clients who prefer to remain “anonymous”.
Social media isn’t a hands-off approach to business. As the world of social interaction has become an instant feedback generator, making your social media duties a once weekly event is about as infrequent as you want to go. Even if your client community is quite active and keeps the discussion fresh and new, 7 days without a presence would be considered long.
Since Twitter and Facebook, specifically, assign dates to everything, it doesn’t take much to look stagnant. With blogs you may be able to take dates off your posts and updates, but customers who leave comments don’t need dates to know they’re still waiting for answers.
Can a new start-up use social media effectively? Probably. But it will likely take some guts to do so (and a bit of ingenuity at that). Start-ups don’t typically have customers, cheerleaders or fans yet. That being the case, the social media interaction will likely lack the social proof often needed to help conversions.
Often times social media is part of the sales funnel, but typically is used for the “social proof” part of the funnel. That’s where you get your customers to rave and talk about their love of the product. That kind of “testimony” is great in pre-selling prospects before they formally enter the funnel.
I don’t disagree with small businesses starting social media but I think you need clear goals for it in the beginning, and a plan for what you want that that social traffic to both do and achieve. A good understanding of the reason people buy your product (their reasons, not yours) is a good start to knowing what you want them to achieve. The hard part is coming up with the plan and steps to help them achieve that.
Doing social media just to do it may be a waste of time. However, with success events, milestones and prospect achievements built in, you can track and hone the effectiveness and thus become more efficient over time.
If not you may end up with pages that aren’t interactive and don’t have much traffic – which could be a liability later for the prospects who are looking for anecdotal evidence that your products are good.
What are your thoughts on the top reasons small businesses should or should not use social media? I’ll go into further detail in the comments below why some companies can’t do social media even if they wanted to.
There are some companies that don’t stand a chance in the social sphere. Consider the gonorrhea prescription company. . . how about an incontinence company. . . and sometimes even a maid company. Good tutors will find it difficult to even get their customers to refer them. (Why would they if that means their tutor would be busier and harder to schedule?)
Some people just don’t want others to know what they’re doing, what they like, what they buy. Even maid service companies, a relatively ordinary and necessary service, have requests that the maids park in the garage and not send invoices.
If you don’t understand that part of your clientele, you may not only offend your customers by asking them to comment on your “wall” but may even scare some away in the fear that their “secret” arrangement is now with a “Social Media” company.