Social Media for small business

– overcoming start-up anxiety!

The ‘hare in the headlights’ syndrome is preventing too many small business proprietors from getting involved in social media marketing. Approaching 65 y.o.a. I have seen this before – back in the early 1970’s when as a young entrepreuner starting my accounting practice on Queensland’s Gold Coast and PCs were being introduced to the small office professional.

At that time, there were only a few suppliers of the information needed to make a decision about the infrastructure needed. There were a greater number of suppliers of hardware; and relatively few producing the software that was suited to Australian Accounting Standards; and to the local taxation system. The early-adopters (of which I thankfully was one) were able to operate effectively with a much smaller staff establishment than those who chose to battle on ‘the way it had always been done’.

The current bout of SM development has similarities, but is made different by its very nature: virtually anybody can claim to be expert at getting the best out of Twitter, Facebook, Linked In etc; others have quickly learned the ‘search optimisation’ game; and yet others are claiming superior outcomes using their Social Media Marketing tools.

My company has again been an early adaptor from a Financial Planning industry point of view, albeit progressing at a measured pace. We have been managing a website now for a number of years: it is upgraded in terms of presentation every couple of years, but is updated virtually every week with new articles that are designed to provide ‘education’ for our readers on matters related to wealth management topics. In this goal, we seek to help develop within our readers, a sense of understanding of what goes on in the portfolios they entrust to our management.

Wherever we go looking for assistance in getting the best from our social media efforts (I personally prefer to think of it as ‘the new media’ at this stage), we find experts in all aspects of the media – and it can be quite difficult to determine which of those claiming to hold ‘expert’ status, actually understand our industry (and more particularly, our company!). When we discuss this matter with colleagues within the wealth management industry (which is working hard on becoming a profession), we find many who have made no attempt just because of this dilemma.

Because we made an early start, we probably approached the task with fewer sources of information clammering for our attention: and were fortunate enough to have followed a few participants who spoke a language we understood; made sense to us; and spoke well of each other (on the occasions when that was oppportune).

The Internet Marketing podcast (Site Visibility, UK) was an inspirational source that encouraged ‘having a go’; Social Media Examiner and Hubspot – both out of the USA – Tweet about their Blogs and ‘white papers’, many of which we found helpful; I read the book ‘Engage!’ (which, whilst particularly focused on larger businesses, has some ideas that can be adapted to smaller enterprises, downscaled); and MeetUp opportunities with appropriate ‘communities’ (e.g. Brissy Bloggers; and SEO groups) – have all helped us to develop our current program (along with some help from a few friends in business who were trying to work out what to do with Twitter on a promotions basis).

It is logical that in the end, everything old has become new again: our process had to be based on what we knew and so we –

  1. developed a social media marketing strategy;
  2. wrote a social media policy (and accompanying implementation plan);
  3. established some goals to measure the success of the venture;
  4. tried, tested and measured the implementation plan;
  5. revised and updated the policy (and implementation plan) documentation; and
  6. keep working on improving the effectiveness of this marvelous ‘tool’.

Our company is now an advocate for ‘having a go’ – but we caution that the steps above are important. Any small business can do this provided they are prepared to put in the effort: the actual financial outlays can be small relative to the outcomes – but the strategy must be clearly considered; some market goals (such as ‘ideal client’ expectation from such activity) need to be established; and, if still not confident, take steps to identify one of the many experts available to help you get under way. (At this stage of my experiences with the MeetUp groups, I would certainly encourage ‘newbies’ to get along to an appropriate meeting in their area – the attendees seem to be incredibly willing to share their ideas and can probably help you to identify a prospective consultant for your social media planning).

One response to “Social Media for small business

  1. Interesting to find a similar post at a site called Social Magnets (http://www.socialmagnets.net/social-media-management-for-beginners-and-pros/): consider it an endorsement of the process!

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