Social media for entrepreneurs and small businesses

Internet is replete with articles, blogs and personal thoughts about the value and importance of social media for startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Almost everybody endorses the fact that social media marketing (or presence at least) should be adopted by all businessmen irrespective the scale of their ventures.

With Facebook’s popularity rivaling Google itself, it is prudent decision to spend some quality time networking and be present on the social media band so as to make your presence felt. Surely, an entrepreneur can stay away from heated argumentation, uncontrolled promotion of its brand/product/service, and illogical connection-building with users who have nothing to do with its venture.

However, it makes sense to connect with people from the same industry, auxiliary fields and perhaps the target audience. The rules of being on social media and the suggested behavior could vary but it is important to keep an unbiased tone. Too much attachment to personal brands/services/products could throw a limited-thought image and could destroy the value of time an entrepreneurs spends on the social media.

Tamar Weinberg
Tamar Weinberg

Tamar Weinberg, Social Media Marketing Manager at M80, shares her thoughts about the importance of social media for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Q1. Should start-ups be concerned about having a social media presence?

Yes, all companies should have a social media presence. We’re seeing more emphasis on social media in today’s day and age and any company looking to promote itself online should consider at least a basic social media marketing strategy.

Q2. How can the impact of social media be measured in terms of marketing, brand imaging and promotion for entrepreneurs?

I think this is something you need to look at over time as you engage more in the online space. Are mentions of your brand increasing? Are people spreading your message? Are they sharing links to your website? Are they liking your comments on Facebook? Are they engaging on private forums about your efforts? Put all of this together and you’ll get a really good picture of what you’re doing right (and wrong).

Q3. Is it a wise decision to outsource the social media marketing process?

Outsourcing may work if you don’t have time for it. Without outsourcing, as a social media consultant, I’d be out of a job. 🙂 That said, you want to find the perfect person to represent your business. They need to be passionate about what you have to offer.

Q4. What future potential social media holds for entrepreneurs?

There’s SO much potential in social media, from the basics like getting traffic, building strong relationships that weren’t even possible 10-15 years ago. At the end of the day, you can connect with people without necessarily being local to them. It’s mostly free (but there’s a time commitment) and can do wonders for your business. It would be silly to overlook this gold mine of opportunity to really get your business and your brand out there.

Social media offers a great way to provide relevancy, spread awareness and share constructive thoughts about one’s venture. Social networking has erased the geographical boundaries and even the time-gaps between the businesses and their targeted audiences. With multiple gadgets and devices allowing to access social media sites, it is never time-dependent.

It all started when people started using Ryze, WAYN, Orkut, Myspace, Facebook, and Flickr, etc. It grew to Youtube, Linkedin, Twitter, Bebo, Google Buzz, Plaxo, revamped Facebook, etc. Presently, a whole lot of social networking sites have come up and some of them are divided in geographical preference.

To pick up clear winners among them, we can think about Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Among these Linkedin is focused on professionals, while Facebook is abundant in getting everybody on-board.

When we say that entrepreneurs and startups should take up to social networking, it is also important to be selective and careful. A small blunder on social media can cause great damage (butterfly effect). I was interviewing Sanjay Mehta, CEO of Social Wavelength and he mentioned that when they take up a client to launch a social media campaign, they take utmost care for everything they do. This is because when they are on social media for a client, at the front-end, it is the client who is speaking. A small error on their part can have rebounding effect on the image of their client.

Fiona Bosticky
Fiona Bosticky

Fiona Bosticky, Marketing Media Consultant at Abnormal Marketing, shares her thoughts about the value of social media for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Q1. Should start-ups be concerned about having a social media presence?

Yes.  Social Media is affecting nearly all businesses currently operating. So the sooner a start-up initiates building their social media presence, the better. Also especially for a “start-up”, they really need to have a plan and some preparations before commencing. They should know exactly how they want to build their presence, and exactly where they will do it ‘which channels they will focus on.’ Deciding how you want to be perceived on the internet is important too.

For example, if someone wants to be perceived as a professional start-up, they should use a professional-looking gravatar image in all their profiles.

Q2. How can the impact of social media be measured in terms of marketing, brand imaging and promotion for entrepreneurs?

There are various tracking tools to analyse and measure the impact social media makes on your business. The first would be to track your Google Analytics. Just looking at how visitors come to your website can tell you if your social media efforts are making a difference.  If a lot of visitors are coming from social media sites, then you are drawing the right attention. Especially if those visitors are making enquiries for your products/services.

The impact can also be measured using surveys. Or by running a campaign within a certain timeframe and seeing the responses you receive. It must be remembered though, that your social media interactions and building your reputation in the social networks does take time, and you can start analysing your impact after 1 or 2 months.

Q3. Is it a wise decision to outsource the social media marketing process?

Yes and No. The best thing about social media is it gives your business a chance to build relationships and interact with your customers. So the businesses own input is really required in the various social media channels. I would say that some parts could be outsourced, and you could use a “ghost writer” occasionally for your blog.

Q4. What future potential social media holds for entrepreneurs?

Social Media will only continue to grow. Entrepreneurs always tend to be at the forefront taking maximum advantage of industries which are growing. So this can only mean more opportunity for them. As the technology changes too, there will be new avenues, services and products required to assist users.

Social Media will become easier to update, and more mobile as time goes on. Businesses keeping an eye on this can always find way to benefit.

Some tips for using social media for small business, startups and entrepreneurial ventures

  • Define your goals. It might not be limited to marketing and promotion.
  • Does not need to be expensive and involve a professional. If you know what you need to do, spare some time and do it yourself.
  • Limit the no. of networks that you can work upon. Quality (as always) is more important for social media presence.
  • Do not shout too much about your own venture–try to share your thoughts and inputs for others also. It creates mutual respect and understanding.
  • Be updated and open but do not use too much slang. Try to use correct and clear language style.
  • Give it some time. It does not bring instant results. Building community is the mantra and it does take time.
  • Never use harsh words or do direct criticism of a user. Try to limit your personal likes.

If you take care of such small things and move ahead step-by-step, there is no limit to what you can achieve through social media for your business and venture. The power of social media (like mind) is unlimited. It just needs to be explored, channelized and utilized in an effective manner. Happy social networking to you!

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