six clues that your small business is ready to be social mediavine marketingAs a small business owner, you’ve probably been bombarded with people telling you that you “must” use social media to promote your business or you’ll be left behind. While we believe that using social media as part of your overall marketing plan can be extremely valuable, we also believe that, like anything else, you have to be ready to use it well.

Here are seven clues that your business is likely ready to use social media:

1. You have a goal for using social media other than “it seems like a good idea”. You’ll waste a lot of time in social media if you haven’t determined your reasons and goals for using it. Some of the goals you might use could include:

    Establish Awareness and Brand Recognition
    Establish Trust
    Establish Expert Positioning
    Maintain Competitiveness
    Develop Advocates
    Monitor Your Brand
    Researching Target Market, Competitors and Emerging Trends
    Provide Value and/or Education to Audience
    Become Part of a Community
    Introduce Audience to the Sales Funnel- New Client Acquisition
    Dominate Your Digital Presence – Improve Search Engine Ranking
    Improve Searchability/Findability
    Increase Website Traffic

Determining your goals for using social media is a good first step to developing a plan, which is also key to using social media effectively.

2. You have identified your target market and know where they are most likely to be online.  It’s important to put the most emphasis and effort on the platform(s) your potential clients are likely to use.   You’ve polled your current clients to see what they like to use and what information they would likely appreciate from you. 

3. You recognize that social media is all about being social and that it requires engagement and follow-up. If you’re prepared to interact with people and regularly monitor what happens after you post or tweet, you have the right attitude. Social media is not “set and forget” by any means. People like to be thanked, reposted, retweeted and recognized.

4. You’re ready to listen to some feedback- positive and negative. As you gain more connections and put out more content, you’ll get comments from people. Some are great and some can be pretty harsh. The best attitude is to see all comments and feedback as opportunities for learning. I remember the first time I received a criticism of one of my blog posts. At first, I was a bit annoyed, but when I thought about it, I realized that the commenter had an opinion that others most likely shared and that I had to take this into consideration as I worked with clients.

5. You truly believe that your business can benefit from social media, and you’re ready to work at it consistently and frequently. You’ve investigated the digital accounts of other small businesses and have asked business owners how it’s worked for them. Also, having an understanding that achieving your goals (see #1) will take time and commitment is crucial.

6. You’re OK with being checked out online before you meet someone in person. When you create a profile, gain connections and start interacting, potential clients will have another place to evaluate you and your business. Keeping those profiles updated is important.

7. You believe that valuable relationships can be started and developed online. Strategic partnerships and just plain friendships can be nurtured in social media, but you do have to have the mindset that you may never meet some of your best advocates in person.

So, are you ready? Do you have any other “readiness” clues to add?