Does Your Small Business Need a Social Media Strategy?

Does Your Small Business Really Need a Social Media Strategy?

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Last week we got a small job from someone who found me through Twitter. We’re now talking together about a search engine optimization project.

I recently reconnected with a camp buddy through Facebook; shortly afterwards he hired flyte for a custom programming job.

Next week I have meeting with a woman who lives here in Maine to discuss Web design, Internet marketing, e-commerce and more. We’ve never met before, but we’ve tweeted.

I’m talking to yet another person about a possible business venture. We “met” while contributing to a blog and then met again at a conference. Twitter later strengthened this relationship and we discussed the plan using Skype, the free chat/phone/video conferencing service.

As I’m editing this, I just received an email from a neighbor who saw a YouTube video about email marketing I made and uploaded to Facebook. He said “We need your help! I’ve forwarded a link to my colleagues. Our marketing does not leverage technology AT ALL.”

And although I may be pushing both credibility and your patience here, while I continue to edit this article, a long-lost client who stopped work on her site and disappeared just pinged me on Facebook to see if we could get started again.

When I mention Facebook or Twitter to friends and business associates they wonder how I can find the time to waste on such activities. When I share stories like these their eyes go wide and they ask me how to get started.

Thinking that social media is easy money is just plain wrong. Going into it for a quick buck is like being the guy at the cocktail party trying to push life insurance on everyone. You don’t want to be “that guy.” I had about 800 tweets (Twitter posts) before I attracted that first job.

You must understand the social norms. In some societies spitting in public is completely acceptable. In other societies burping and belching at the dinner table is considered a compliment. Either could get you kicked out of my mother’s house.

Since it may not be possible to ask, “how do I behave here?” to the natives, it makes sense to listen first and engage slowly.

The norms of social media will undoubtedly evolve over time, but it will continue to be good advice to get a lay of the land before opening your mouth and jumping in with both feet.

On the other hand, she who hesitates is lost. Bottom line is, you’re either going to “get” social media before your competition does, or you won’t. The early adopters will have the advantage as more people engage in online networking.

Use social media the right way and you will create and strengthen relationships. You won’t have to chase customers, you’ll attract them. With a slowing economy, you may find you have more time and less money; although social media takes time (like any networking activity), it’s extremely affordable.

The best part is, social media is fun. I enjoy twittering with other people, catching up with old friends on Facebook and asking and answering questions through LinkedIn. (Unlike in traditional networking events where I’m always worried that there’s food in my teeth.)

In Conclusion

Social media may turn out to be the biggest competitive advantage your business has over the next two years. So, yes, you do need a social media strategy. And it starts with getting your feet wet.

If you’d like to continue this conversation, or add your own stories, you can do so at the flyte blog. If you have any questions feel free to tweet me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, or ask me at LinkedIn.

–Rich Brooks
President, flyte new media