“Failure to plan is planning to fail…”

Head in Handsphoto © 2009 Alex Proimos | more info (via: Wylio)

Several conversations lately with clients have led me to keep repeating the importance of proper planning when it comes to setting a social media marketing strategy. So many small businesses jump on a tool (be it Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, you name it) and just start posting content without any thought being given to the purpose of the tool or the logic behind using it. As a business what you have to understand is that your online presence impacts the perception of your bricks and mortar business. And if you are not properly managing those perceptions then you are taking a risk that you will lose business based on them.

Before jumping on the next social media tool bandwagon, really give some thought to why you think that tool is a good idea for you. As a local florist, what value do you see in creating a twitter account?  Does your law practice really need to add your location to Yelp? Really dig into what value might be there before you decide to make the leap.

There is something to be said for grabbing your business name or personal name before someone else snatches it up and you’re later left as JohnDobsonLawFirm123. But if you do decide to open the account and you aren’t using it actively then manage your privacy settings so a potential client doesn’t come across it, see how abandoned and empty it is, and move onto someone else.

When you do decide that a social media tool is a good fit for your business, make sure you are consistently monitoring that profile. Small business owners in particular find themselves extremely short on time, and before they know it six months has passed since they last looked at their Facebook page, must less updated it. In the absence of regular monitoring a lot of spam could be posted to your page without you knowing it.  At the very least, check your page regularly, delete any spam and make sure a comment is not sitting there unanswered – or worse, answered by your competition.

Additionally, when you decide to take up a new tool be sure to create a plan for how you will use it. So many businesses create a profile and then just post sales information and announcements. They lack engagement, which is a crucial part of the social media equation. Don’t just use your tools to push content to your fans and followers – engage them in conversation, post interesting information, insights and links. Make yourself a valuable source of information so they will keep coming back to check in with you. And the next time they need a service they will come to you.

Be choosy with your tools, plan for how you will use them, and be active and present once you do adopt them.

– Christy