As an agency, we spending a lot of time helping businesses launch their social media presence for the first time. I have a lot of conversations about why companies want to use social media. And all too often, I hear responses like…
Because our competitors are doing it.
Because everyone uses social media these days.
Because people expect to see us there.
And I agree that there is a certain ‘credibility factor’ to having a social media presence. Because the use of social media is so pervasive in our culture, people do expect to find the small businesses they know there – just like they can find all their friends, celebrities they follow, and the major brands they love. When they engage with companies in real life, they want to be able to interact with them on social channels, too.
But given that fact, I’m always disappointed when the answer to why do social isn’t along these lines…
To create more opportunities to listen to our customers.
To become a resource for those who look to us as experts.
To build an engaged community around our brand.
Small businesses tend to think of social media as something they have somehow been roped into doing. They can’t avoid it because everyone else is doing it. No matter how long they wait, they will simply not be able to escape the obligation – so they might as well put up some posts. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
But that attitude misses what using social media is really about. And it completely ignores all the huge benefits that social media gives to small businesses – especially those with small marketing budgets and limited resources. You have access to the same tools as the big brands – and you have the same opportunity to build loyalty and connection with your fan base.
Social is something you are as a business, not something you simply do. It’s a way of communicating with your customers. A way of telling your story. It’s a philosophy on how you view the relationship between your company and those you service.
By creating an active social media presence, you are making yourself available to your customers in a way that you weren’t before. You are giving them access to ask questions, deliver feedback and participate in the conversation. You are setting the expectation that you will be an active participant in the dialog, and that you will respond in a timely manner. That you will listen. That you will engage. And that you will act on the input they offer.
And if you’re not willing to do those things? Then you are not a social business. And social media may not be for you.
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