There is no chance that small business will become less competitive. Especially now, we see an upward trend of start-ups gaining capital and taking their shot at success, so small businesses need to stretch further than ever to stand out. As a free tool, social media is naturally an attractive choice. The tendency for a restaurant, bar, or sports venue to rapid-fire across social networks with feel-good messages and upcoming promotions is a natural fit.
But what about a Laundromat? What should they say on Twitter? Do they even need Twitter? In the gilded age of shiny social toys, we forget that there are businesses out there that aren’t exactly “social” by design. If you’re one of these scrap metal dealers or local hardware store owners who feels run over by the social media truck, here are five tips to help you determine if you need to should climb aboard, and if so, how to get started:
1. Do your competitors use it? The first request of small business owners looking for a social strategy is to make a list of their five biggest competitors. But remember, just because your competitors aren’t using it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t It could end up being your point of differentiation.
2. Do your customers use it? The second question is always about their customers. You should always know your biggest customers, no matter what your business. Take a look at what social sites your customers use and how, and you’ll see the best way to engage.
3. Ego-search. If you’ve made it this far, both your clients and customers use social networks, so it’s time to dive in. Perform searches for your company on the social sites you plan to embrace. Sites like Google and search.twitter.com serve a dual purpose: It’ll let you know what’s being said about your business, and it can give you an idea of how your business is perceived in the market.
4. Start slow. Fight the urge to set up a Facebook page, Pinterest board, Twitter handle, etc. all in one afternoon. Remember that social sites are like puppies: For every one you bring home, you have to feed it, maintain it, and train it to behave.
5. Plan 3 months of content. Whichever social sites you decide to embrace, build out a content calendar for about three months-worth of content before you get started. Decide how often you’re going to post, what type of content you’ll post, and what success will look like. Leave placeholders for some cool stuff you’ll want to post or for content from your customers. Stay consistent and positive; really focus on what your customers want to read.
The important thing to remember is that not every business that is social needs social media and not every non-social business should avoid it. The rules of business haven’t changed, just the options.