Is Your Business Ready for Social Media?

A couple of weeks ago, I began blogging about social media for the Nashville Business Journal as part of their Social Madness promotion. I’m excited to be one of several talented guest bloggers. You can check out all of the posts here.

Below is my first article for the NBJ and I wanted to share it with you here also because I think it’s important for businesses to ask these questions before diving into social media. You can see the original article here or read on below. Enjoy!

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It’s no secret that social media continues to grow in popularity.

In fact, latest research shows that 54 percent of Americans over the age of 12 use Facebook and more than 40 percent see tweets through the media on a daily basis.

Businesses would be wise to take advantage of this opportunity.

But if you’re diving into social media because you want some shiny icons on your website or because “everyone else is doing it,” you’re in for a rude awakening. Plunging into social media without a well-thought-out strategy will lead to wasted time and failed efforts.

Before setting up profiles on every social network, here are four questions your business should answer first:

1. What are my goals?

There are a number of ways you can use social media for your business – raise awareness, provide customer service, build relationshipsfind business opportunities and so much more.

Pick the one thing you want to get out of it and then determine what success looks like. That way, you know how to measure your efforts.

2. Which networks does my audience use?

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make on the social web is choosing the wrong network.

Where does your audience spend their time online? If you’re not sure, ask them. Send a survey to your customers. Encourage your team to ask clients when they call. Or, you can even use handy tools like RapportiveSocial Mention or MailChimp to help you do some of the sleuth work.

Once you know which social networks your customers and prospects use most, you’ll know where to invest your efforts.

3. What will I share?

If social media were a hamburger, the content would be the meat. To make your efforts worthwhile, you must have some content that you can share. Without it, your social media efforts would be very thin on value.

Your content can be any number of things — blog posts, videos, case studies, white papers or webinars — as long as you provide something useful for your audience.

4. What is my budget?

Although most social networks don’t cost anything to sign up, social media is NOT free. It takes time to manage your company’s social media efforts, so determine who will do that — you, a staff member or an outside consultant.

If you don’t enlist the proper resources before you get started, you’ll have trouble sustaining your efforts.

So, this begs the question, is your business ready for social media? Which questions do you still need to answer?

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