Last week I offered up 10 social media resolutions every SMB should adopt in 2012. But that may not have been fair. Because the truth is not every company is suited to engage in social media and even those that are may not necessarily be ready to do so. In fact, some companies would fare better to run like hell from social media than use 2012 to join the conversation.
Do you know which side you fall on?
If you’re not sure, don’t worry, you’re not alone. To help you figure it out, below is a short checklist with questions to determine whether your small business is social media-ready or if you still have some work to do before sending out that first company tweet.
1. Do you have a clear reason for being in social media?: One of the biggest business mistakes you can make is to do something just because you think you’re supposed to. And by now, you’ve probably heard a lot about social media and the positive effect it’s had on other people’s businesses. But that doesn’t mean you should give it a shot. Not necessarily.
Before you spend time in social media, ask yourself:
- What are you hoping to get from your participation?
- What business goals will you be able to achieve through social media?
- How will social media aid lead generation?
If you don’t know, then you should spend time figuring it out, not entering the space. Because if increased engagement in social media isn’t going to help your business, then it’s a waste of your time. And if you don’t know what your end goal is, you won’t know if you’re any closer to reaching it.
2. Do you know which social media sites are for you?: You know what you’re looking to get from social media and still think it’s a great fit. Fantastic. But what does that mean in terms of where you should be spending your time? What social media sites are best for your specific purpose? Once you know what your goal is for your participation, identify the best social network for your business, the site that is most geared toward helping you accomplish your goals. You may also want to check your analytics to see which social media sites are already sending you traffic, if you’re not sure. Because while social media is great, not every site is going to speak to your audience, not even the hottest site of the moment. You want to hone in on the site(s) that will.
3. Do you have the resources to continue the investment?: Okay, you know “why”, you know “where” and now it’s time to ask yourself “how long”. How long are you willing to commit resources to being a part of social media? Can you pay someone to blog, tweet and Facebook for you? If not, can you commit to doing it yourself on top of all your other activities? If you’re not and you’re thinking this is something you can do for a few weeks before backing out of it, stop now. Social media is an ongoing process. If you’re not going to stick with it, don’t waste time starting it.
4. Have you carved out a social pipeline?: What are you going to do with the information gleaned from social media? If someone approaches you about a customer service issue or makes a recommendation for a new product or feature, do you have a process for how you’ll quickly get that information to the right person on your team so it can be used? Before you enter social media, create that workflow or pipeline for how you’ll disseminate social media information internally. It will help ensure that you’re getting the most value possible from your social media investment.
5. Is there a social media plan on record?: When jumping in the water, make sure you grab the life vest known as your social media policy! Your social media policy is an internal document that helps a business to navigate the social media waters. It breaks down rules for engagement, how to handle common occurrences, what you’ll do when negative mentions appear, how to start conversations, how to use the different networks, etc. It’s vital to the success of any campaign and I wouldn’t recommend any business enter social media without it.
6. Can you measure it?: Remember, social media is a tool, it’s not a destination. You want to measure your use of social media just like you would measure anything else you’re doing as part of your marketing efforts. Based on your initial goal for social media the metrics you use to judge success may differ from others, and that’s okay. You may choose to track Facebook Likes, ReTweets, change in sentiment, number of mentions, engagement, etc. What’s important is that you’ve decided which metrics are important to your business and that you’re using social media tools to help measure them.
Just because you keep hearing about social media doesn’t mean you’re ready to jump in.