Are Twitter and Facebook right for your business?

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Things to consider before wading into social media waters

We’ve all read the statistics and heard the overwhelming sales pitch on why EVERY business needs to have a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. That whole, “Get on the bandwagon before you get left behind” scare tactic that kicks businesses (and their budgets) into high gear to wade into social media waters without taking a step back to see if it makes sense from a marketing/business perspective.

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For whatever reason, I think many companies may have lost their ability to be objective on whether it’s right to add Twitter and Facebook to their advertising mix. It seems as though there’s so much industry pressure to ‘be there’ that no one wants to take a stand and say, “No, we’re not doing it because it doesn’t make sense for us.”

I totally agree that Twitter and Facebook can be ‘invaluable tools’ for connecting with your target market. However, that’s just it – they are tools. They need to be treated with the same approach you would take to investing any other medium such as television, radio, print ads, direct marketing etc...

As a marketing professional, I find it very interesting to monitor the ever-changing social media landscape to see how companies utilize it. Some do quite well while others struggle to really make it work or maintain a constant presence. If you’re at a point where you’re not sure whether you should commit to Twitter or Facebook, here are a few things to consider that might help you decide if they are the right tools for your business. You need to assess:

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  • their relevance to your market and whether you can effectively reach them via those channels
  • the added value your company would provide to your customer by being there
  • the goals that your activity would support
  • how it will assist with driving traffic to your website
  • the ROI that should be generated
  • the level of staff resources that will need to be committed to posting, responding, monitoring and managing it (remember, overhead is still a business expense, so while the tools might be ‘free’, you will be committing budget to it through your personnel)
  • how it will integrate and support your overall advertising plan to accomplish your marketing goals (for example: Will it help increase retail traffic and ultimately sales for an upcoming in-store promotion?)

Like every business decision, you need to base it on your customers’ needs. Don’t engage in every possible social media channel just because it’s there. Maybe Twitter is a better tool to reach your market than Facebook and if so, that’s ok. Use that channel and really tailor your Twitter posts as a way to engage your customer.
Whatever the nature of your posts, they need to be helpful and position your brand/company in a positive light, not become a pure sales pitch. Here are some examples of helpful posts that might interest a customer:

  • an article on a new product
  • a blog with helpful advice
  • the latest industry trends or happenings
  • offering a discount
  • upcoming community events

The whole point of using social media is to engage your customer and offer them value for following you. Ideally, it will open up two-way communication with them where you can directly interact and share viewpoints. This becomes the ‘invaluable’ part of Twitter and Facebook as tools; understanding your customers’ better so you can serve them better. And what makes it right for your business.

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