Should my business be on Facebook?

Or Twitter? Or have a Pinterest account? Or should I be on Linked In? Or Youtube?

The short answer is: yes, probably.

The long answer is: yes, probably, and the reason why is that the world of sales and marketing has changed. Traditional, one-way business-to-customer marketing is all but dead. ‘Marketing’ or engaging with your target market, is now a two way street. You can drive down that street without bothering to look for oncoming traffic or streetsigns, but you won’t last very long. For example:

You: offer the market something it needs.
They: try it and then they give their feedback to the world via online and social media.
You: keep offering the same product/service and the same messages, regardless of the conversation going on about your product or service.
They: lose interest or find you ridiculous.

Here’s another scenario you want to avoid (in this one, You = your business; They = your competitor):

You: notice your competitors are on social media but figure your target market is the wrong demographic for social media marketing.
They: hear what their customers are saying and asking about their products.
You: miss out on the opportunity to grow and evolve with your customers’ needs.
They: have early and direct sources of information about trends and market demand that can inform their business directions.

The 3 top reasons businesses don’t get involved with social media

1. Because the boss/management doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter and thinks it’s something kids do when they should be kicking a ball around. As a result, the boss might think the business’s target demographic doesn’t use social media (wrong!) or might not understand how social media platforms can be used to build the brand, improve SER, or otherwise engage people. There are 1.06 billion active monthly users on Facebook and 200 million active Twitter users as of March 2013 (See more social media stats here¬†and a round up of Twitter use here.)
2. Because it is time consuming and the business needs to concentrate on getting sales or cleaning carpets, etc.
3. Because the management doesn’t understand the tectonic shift in the way markets now behave, i.e. the two way street, and they think it’s still about selling ‘key messages’ to a passive mass.

What can you do about it?

If you are on the marketing or comms team and you are dealing with a management that is struggling to move with the times, then you could try approaching them with powerful empirical evidence. Go straight to the source (Facebook, for example) and gather statistics about how many and who is using Facebook in your market. Show successful competitor campaigns. Show how people interact with businesses through social media – good and bad examples. Here’s a good example of how to respond to a customer’s negative feedback:
And here’s a bad example (language warning):
More about the above train wreck here.
If the problem is your business’ human resources (or lack of), consider outsourcing your social media management. You may be able to outsource it to your marketing agency, or to your web company as part of your website management, or to your SEO/SEM agency. Otherwise, seek a specialist provider (outsourced social media management is one of the services I provide under Razzed Communications).
Either way, it’s critical to be engaged with your markets and social media is one of the best ways to start the conversation.

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