Small Business and Social Media – the minimum you should do

As a small business owner you will probably fall into one of two camps when it comes to social media:

Either you are reasonably active in the space, still unsure about it for winning new business but see the potential value for your company in networking, recruitment, reputation management etc etc. Crucially you are also probably active in social media personally, either in association with your business or separately but either way your mind is open to Facebook, Twitter and the like, it’s not a chore for you to extend this to your business. You are Engaged.

The second group is more challenging. They may see social media as totally over hyped, a distraction and no replacement for ‘real world’ activities. They almost certainly have no personal social media accounts and can barely think of anything worse than creating ‘friends’ on line. They do not want want to invest their own time in social media and certainly are not interested in paying someone to do it for them. You are a Non-Believer.

Opinions and studies vary on the split between these two types, engagers and non believers, but if you aggregate a few samples you would arrive at a figure of something like 25% of small businesses actively using social media today, engaging,  and 75% not doing so, non believing.

As someone who makes their living in this space it’s natural I would fall into the engagers camp but I do see the argument the non believers make and can see how, for some businesses and people, active social media engagement would be futile. So what’s the minimum a small business should do, what level of engagement in social media should EVERY small or medium sized business have in social media?

I believe the answer to that is brand reputation. All businesses, however small have a brand, if it’s just you then your name is the brand, Parnell Plumbing, run by Jerry Parnell recently did some great work for me at home, Parnell Plumbing is his brand, he should protect it (be interesting to see if he picks that up)

I’ve explained this before by asking people – if there was a guy standing outside your house shouting at the top of his voice that you were rubbish at something or other, I’m absolutely certain you would do something about it. The web in general and social media in particular gives people a platform to shout about you and your business, and of course their voice isn’t just heard in your street, it’s heard everywhere, over and over again.

So that’s the minimum for every small and medium size business. Find out what people are saying about you, respond to critics (but don’t get into an online argument) and to your fans. Manage your reputation and brand online, you never know, you may even enjoy it, and if you don’t or are not sure where to start there’s plenty of people about that will help you.

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