How Small Businesses Can Thrive Using Social Media

For small businesses, social media has been held out as a low-cost opportunity to jump-start their marketing and sales efforts. After all, the tools are, for the most part, free and they can help level the playing field against larger competitors.

The challenge for small businesses is their ability to successfully embrace social media so it becomes part of how they operate rather than a bunch of free tools with untapped potential. Many small businesses get excited about social media but they drop the ball when it comes to tactical execution. Here are some tips on how to make social media happen.

1. Recognize that just because the tools are free, there is a cost to use them. The cost may not be monetary but, rather, time, effort and resources, which are “assets” that small businesses may not have an abundant supply. To make social media happen, someone has to do social media on a regular basis to gain a solid foothold.

2. Be committed. Like many companies, small businesses enthusiastically rush out of the gate with social media but, in time, lose their enthusiasm so the amount of activity fades and then eventually disappears. Social media is no different than other effective sales and marketing activities; it requires a day in, day out approach that may produce instant or significant results.

3. Make sure someone is allocated to do social media. It could be the small business’ owner, the person who does the marketing, or an intern. At the end of the day, someone needs to nurture social media much like gardeners nurture and grow a garden.

4. Be realistic. Small businesses who think social media is going to dramatically change their fortunes will be disappointed. As much as there are success stories such as Milwaukee restaurant A.J. Bombers, they are anomalies that can create a false impression of what social media can deliver. For most small businesses, it is important to recognize what they realistically want to get out of social media, which could simply mean connecting on a regular basis with their core customers.

5.  Look for inspiration and ideas from other small businesses. This could come from reading social media blogs, going to conferences, or getting together with peers. This is important because it means you don’t operate in isolation, which can be one way that your social media mojo will disappear.

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