Social Media – Using it effectively in a small business

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Often when we’re about to launch a new e-commerce website talk in the office turns to social networking and the promotion of the e-commerce cart. Understandably, some clients are looking to promote their new cart without committing to the cost of an actual SEO campaign (until the site had ‘bedded in’ for a little bit first!)

With these discussions, the question of whether social networking is ‘worth it’  ultimately arises. Usually the main query is concerned around whether the time invested will be time wasted when what everyone want is an immediate sale.

Whether you are an obsessive user (like everyone in PoLR) or just want to update the bare minimum you can, social networking can be a powerful tool for any business.

Before we go into why Social Media is worth it, here’s a few very quick tips for starting on your online presence and reputation :

  • Take care with your profiles, be honest about the fact it’s a business and try not to spam your feed with purely links back to your website.
  • Be friendly and don’t start arguments as once something is online it can sometimes be impossible to remove!
  • Participate – don’t sit on the sidelines because if you do you may find when you have something to say that it’s harder to find someone to listen and respond.
  • Social networking is not a popularity contest, try not to mass follow just to up your own follower numbers, it’s can be frowned upon and will be seen for what it is : spamming.

So how can a new online business get to grips with social networking and is the effort worthwhile?

We’d like to show you that the time spent online is good for business and give a few tips for starting out. If you have any reasons you would like to share then feel free to leave a comment.

Gains you a reputation

With social networking, I would say that the main aim for a newly launched website is to raise awareness of the brand or product. You want people to know you are there and to get to know you in the first instance in order to have them think of you. To begin with, a sale is a happy event but isn’t the be all and end all it’s the gaining of a reputation that will be more valuable in the long run. Yes, you want sales to come through the site but it is important to develop a network and gain some trust first, immediately trying to sell your wares will make it more difficult to build your network.

Little but often makes your business come alive

If your business is not in IT then chances are you aren’t as addicted to your computer as us and the thought of updating all those profiles is a chore. Setting aside 15 mins each morning to run through all your accounts and update them will show your profile is active and is more likely to encourage interaction. Also, if your profile has a ‘recently updated’ feed (such as with Facebook) then you know that each day it will be infront of potential visitors. Also, spending time to look through your profiles and reply to any questions or comments is good for customer service which brings me onto my next point.

It’s free advertising and fantastic for customer relations

For any business, social networking is essentially free advertising with the investment being in the time spent carrying it out and what business will say no to free advertising! Among other things, it lets you promote new products and can be a powerful customer services tool (take a look at how Virgin Media do it).

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  1. I have found social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook invaluable to building my presence online. Even just starting with the friends you already have on Facebook you have a ready made network of people that can go on and on. I have found it particularly useful because my target market is young and active on these sites.