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Do Small Businesses Need Social Media?

Should My Business use Social Media Marketing?

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With all the talk about social media in the last few years, and now that it has become part of our every day language, the question to ask is, “Does my small business need to be on social media?”

The answer – depends. The question should be more of, “How does this particular social media tool help my business reach the marketing goals?”

Not All Social Media is Created Equal

The nature of marketing isn’t about using what’s the latest tools or what’s cool, it’s about being able to use the tools in measurable and creative ways to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck (or the most out of your time invested). The trouble begins by lumping all social media together as one group, but like the way that radio stations work, each social media tool has a specific demographic it reaches.

Being able to know which social media tool fits the type of customer or client that you’re looking for will help you a lot in determining which social media tool is right for you to use.

Not Every Business Has to be on Facebook

I don’t advocate every business be on Facebook, unless they are truly prepared to be active on Facebook on a weekly basis. With the proper Facebook engagement, content, and advertising, your business can gain Facebook Likes much more easily than just leaving it alone.

Facebook isn’t a static website, it always needs to be under construction. And while there are reports that people have done B2B, it’s not always going to be the most effective.

What often happens is that small businesses neglect their Facebook Business Page for months, while customers are trying to reach them through that particular social media channel. What kind of experience do you feel a customer has if they don’t get an answer to their inquiry?

It might not be a big deal, but how do you like being e-mailed back 2 weeks later for an inquiry you had about your phone bill?

Twitter is the same. It’s a social media tool designed for engagement. Learning where to start with Twitter and not be overwhelmed by it is important.

For restaurants, retail, hospitality, and businesses that have customer service, being on Twitter is a smart move. It allows you to engage with potential customers and ensure ties with existing customers to continue to build relationship loyalty.

Or if you’re in the business of real estate, then you may actually want to target people who are on Linked In and create online relationships there. Or you may want to develop relationships with people on Yelp, surprisingly, almost 1/3 rd of users earn more than $150,000.

Social Media Marketing is Strongly Suggested

I don’t think small businesses NEED to have a social media presence, just like most business owners don’t need to go out and network. However, those small business owners that make it a priority to go network also know that by networking, they can grow their business. As long as they don’t suffer from networking overload and forget the other aspects of their business.

Social media operates in the same manner, once you’re able to find a network where your ideal customers and clients are digitally hanging out, it allows you access to a whole different community of people and referrals that you would have never been able to reach before. The most important part is not to put too much time so that it takes you away from the core of your business.

There are times that it’s better for your business to be a part of old school discussion forums. For example if you run an automotive shop, search for local car forums, and offer advice on how to fix cars. Develop credibility by offering your opinion and recommendations.

Social media marketing should always be part of a larger integrated marketing plan for your small business. Rarely does it succeed purely on it’s own, with the exception of a few industries such as food trucks. But before jumping into any social media tool, or any marketing tool for that matter, always ask yourself, “How does this help my marketing goals?”

If you don’t have clear answer to that question, then you’re using social media because everybody else told you to. Not because your business needed to.

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Vincent Ng is the founder of MCNG Marketing, and the author of Pinterest to Profits with Pintalysis and the host of the Pinterest podcast, Pictures to Profits. You can grab your free e-book on How to Search Optimize Your Pins for Pinterest and Search Engines."