Social Media for Offline Businesses
Social Media has become a worldwide must. In 2016 alone the number of social media users rose by 176 million bringing the total number of active social media users to 2.3 billion.
Does Social Media Belong in Your Business Plan?
A business plan is a ever-changing document. It is no secret that too many business owners of small to medium size businesses either don’t develop a business plan at all or if they do, they don’t revisit it periodically to keep it up to date
While social media has existed for some time now, its use for business is a rather recent development. This has come about as a result of its increasing acceptance by the population in general, businesses finding ways to capitalize on it, larger businesses dedicating resources to it and the social media platforms offering more business-oriented capabilities.
Has social media had an impact on the specific industry related to your business?
For example, if you own a restaurant you need to know whether any of these platforms could help you grow your business. In this case, two immediately come to mind — Yelp and Foursquare.
It would be important to be proactive with the use of these platforms in your business planning.
In this section of your business plan have you analyzed how your competitors are using social media platforms? For example, do they have a business page on Facebook? Do they use Facebook ads?
Along these same lines, you need to consider how investing in these platforms can help you with your competitive differentiation. How can you use them to make your business stand out from the rest?
It’s a simple way of assessing your needs. Look at other similar businesses and see if they are getting good results from social media. Business can be very collaborative so even if it’s not apparent how good the company’s ROI is, they may happily share it with you. Just please contribute something in return.
Organization and Management
The use of these technologies requires resources. Consideration needs to be given to whether these will be internal or external. In addition, social media can provide an effective platform for managing customer service, including issues. It has provided new methods for people to share their opinions about a business and its service.
It is important to follow these developments and pay attention to whether your customers are providing information to their online friends about your business.
Social media also keeps people from asking the same question over and over again. A simple tweet from your company’s social media account may be enough to quell the question of thousands of customers.
Now that’s a good ROI, wouldn’t you agree?
Marketing and Sales
This is a crucial area for those that decide to dedicate time, energy and money to the use of social media. A focused strategy is critical to the success or you may spend thousands of dollars with little return to show for it.
Consistent messages, attracting people to your products and converting them to customers requires proper business planning for successful execution.
It seems like nearly all sales at least start online. Nearly all of us go online before going in-store. Even just to check the general prices on Amazon. With that said, social media ties in nicely. Market and sell to your customers before they go to anyone else.
Unfortunately, most owners of small to medium size businesses spend money on online services such as a website that is never going to give them a return on their investment because the site is not likely to be found among the millions of websites that exist today. However, these new platforms can provide very cost effective alternatives for promoting your business.
So should your business have a social media presence? Probably. No matter who your target demographic. Social media is still useful for letting everyone know what your company is doing for those children. Social media is about giving your company a voice. It’s not about pushing products, services, or news.