Social media has been around for a while now and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. But  there are still some businesses that haven’t yet embraced it as a cost-effective marketing tool.

So I am often asked by small and medium business owners whether they really need to ‘do’ social media and if so, which ‘channel’ they should use for their business?

Like all marketing campaign strategies the first question you need to answer is ‘who are my target audience?’ closely followed by ‘when they are online, where are they?’ To state the obvious, there is no point starting up a Twitter account if none of your clients or prospective clients spend any time there!

So have a think about where your customers and prospects play – ask them with a simple survey, ask them when you next speak to them, or venture online yourself and have a look around – do they have social media handles on their website and are they regularly participating on them?

The next thing to look at are your resources. Who will spend time updating your social media channels and engaging with the community you build? It pays to remember that social media is all about interacting and building relationships and rapport, it is not about shouting out your marketing message into the ether and expecting people to flock to your business. Tell me about your last marketing campaign that did that!

It also pays to remember that because you set up a Facebook account does not mean you’re finished. There is nothing worse than visiting a company page or blog and seeing that it hasn’t been updated for months. So look carefully at your resources, think carefully about what you’re prepared to invest and then set a schedule in motion – you might even decide it’s worth participating in more than one community.

After that, think about your product or service and what would best amplify its benefits. Is it photos and imagery? Then you might want to consider Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr.

Is it text and explanation? Then consider Twitter and blogging.

Is it a combination of both? Maybe presentation format would work best and therefore Slideshare is the one for your business.

Is it asking questions and opening discussions around your industry or your client’s industry? Maybe LinkedIn is a good place for you.

Have a think about those questions first, before determining which social media channel (if any) is right for your business and next time we’ll discuss what on earth to share once you’re all set up.

Need help? Give me a shout. I love helping.