Does social media REALLY work for business?

When I meet other business owners it is likely that the topic of marketing or social media comes up in conversation.

Whilst some businesses have embraced social media and can never imagine how they communicated without it, other businesses seem to be really scared of it. Descriptions have included “Our business lifeline”, “The dark art“ and many more in between. Whilst it cannot be denied that Social Media is here to stay, it is still something which many businesses have not embraced.

Part of the marketing strategy for my business for early 2013 has been to set in motion our social media sites. We are working on a strategy to connect with our potential clients and to meet new clients through these sites. I have clear expectations and a strategy to do this as my goal is to see a return on the time my business invests in social media marketing.

I have been on a very sharp learning curve where social media is concerned and here are my top three social media lessons:

1) Social Media isn’t free: Whilst Social Media sites are free to join and use on a basic level, they still require time and effort. Whether you do your own social media or employ an outsourced company to do this for you, there is always an investment. If it isn’t financial then it will most certainly be time. Always remember that time is precious and to use it wisely. Hours spent on social media are still hours that you could spend on other parts of your business. I have learnt that it is very important to balance this out

2) Social Media doesn’t replace everything else: I speak to a number of business owners who rely only on Social Media for their marketing. Whilst short term this may show results, in the long term it is unlikely to be profitable. Social media really should be part of a bigger mix. The face to face contact of networking and other advertising mediums which provide a good return on investment shouldn’t be discounted if they are working for your business. A good marketing consultant is always a great person to speak to about other types of cost effective marketing.

3) Social Media takes time: I am under no illusion that social media is an overnight money maker. It takes time to build up a quality following. Being a local chartered accountant means that my priority is to connect with local businesses. In order to do this, my social media is targeted. I understand that this will take time to build up and become a strong network. It’s about finding the right balance between time and profit.

Social media is definitely here to stay so if in doubt, speak to a specialist and make sure you’re getting the balance right for your business.

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