Social Media — Just Another Marketing Channel

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about marketing, and how important it is to make sure that the plans you lay out are specific and actionable, meaning that they identify specific timelines, tactics, budgets and expected outcomes.

I’d like to explore this one step further for entrepreneurs using social media including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs as a central tactic in their marketing plans.

We are huge fans of social media here at the Small Business Centre. We use Twitter and Facebook extensively to communicate with our clients, promote our seminars and keep in touch with the goings on of the business community in the region and beyond.

However, there is something frustrating about reading an entrepreneur’s business plan that states that they will create a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter Profile as a top marketing tactic (or sometimes even worse, the only marketing tactic), without providing details of how traffic will find the page.

What social media does for a business

Social media gives you a fantastic opportunity to keep customers you have already acquired engaged. You can participate in conversations, run contests, hear feedback and send updates on your products, services and special events. You can provide a place for your customers to see information about your business, on a website they are already visiting regularly, rather than trying to get them to visit your own website at regular intervals.

Why it alone won’t attract new customers

Social media alone will not allow you to acquire new customers. Just like in the rest of the marketplace, before you open your business, consumers are going about their lives not concerned about your existence. If they don’t know who you are in the real world, they aren’t going to choose to follow your Facebook page and they are unlikely to stumble upon you as their perfect vendor.   You need to integrate your social media tactics within your broader marketing plan.

My challenge to you:

While you are working on your business plan, plan to use social media. Plan how you will use it, when you will use it, how you will create meaningful content for it that your customers will enjoy, and what your expected outcomes will be for using it. Plan for specific timelines and tasks that will allow you to keep up with creating meaningful content and interactions. And perhaps most importantly, develop tactics to use outside of social media to acquire new fans and customers such as email marketing and other more traditional tools.  Think about how you will find and connect with people who care about all of the great stuff you are writing about in your blog or posting on your social media platforms. Where can you meet them? How will you ask them to “like” or “follow”?  Take a look at this post from MaRs for some best practices and tips for small business.

Halton Region Small Business Centre is here to help you. Check out our upcoming seminars, including New Media Marketing Tools on June 6.  If you have any questions, please call us at 1-866-442-5866, www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca, smallbusinesss@halton.ca or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. You can also follow us on Twitter @haltonecdev and Facebook at www.facebook.com/HaltonSBEC.

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