Can social media actually be dangerous to your small business? Absolutely.
“Blasphemy!” you cry. “Heretic!” you say.
Guilty as charged. Remember, Martin Luther was a heretic with a blasphemous message. Today’s heretic might be tomorrow’s prophet.
Being successful with any of the social media communities is as easy as falling off of a log – for individuals; but for small businesses – not so much.
The goals of these two groups are very different: Individuals use social media primarily to connect and share. Businesses participate in social media communities to pursue a marketing strategy in these target-rich environments.
For professional services providers, like consultants, trainers, writers or any venture that sells information and ideas, social media is pretty intuitive, completely logical and often highly effective. But many classicMain Street small businesses, like a restaurant, dry cleaners, contractor, etc., often struggle to create an effective social media strategy.
Unfortunately, some business owners, especially start-ups, get caught up in the social media whirlwind and, since it’s all the rage, actually believe that spending time “connecting” online will cause sales dollars to roll in. This is where the danger lies because social media activity can become a thief that steals time from effective marketing practices. Effective means those strategies that are known to result in sales.
Even so, social media, with all the attendant sites and applications, may be a craze, but it isn’t a fad. It is real, and it will last. And just like the evolution of websites, in time businesses will figure our how to use social media as an effective tool. But for the time being, some businesses have figured it out, while many are still uncertain about how to produce a social media return on investment.
In order to actually have a social media strategy that isn’t dangerous, practice both/and rather than either/or. Continue to execute your traditional marketing strategy, while simultaneously getting involved in and learning about the 21st century social media universe.
Get a Facebook page and use it, but don’t live there. Acquire a Twitter and do some following, but don’t get sucked into the time drain. Link up on LinkedIn, but don’t forget to unlink.
Allow me to demonstrate that I’m an equal opportunity heretic: As obnoxious as it may be today, social media will increasingly become a significant element of any successful small business marketing strategy.
Write this on a rock… Use social media like any other business tool — prudently.