Is your business on social media? When I ask managed service providers (MSPs) this question, I get answers ranging from “Of course it is!” and a recap of two or three networks on which it is, or a slightly terrified stare followed by a “Should it be?”
I get it.
Even now, 15 years after Facebook (then The Facebook) made its initial appearance on the college scene, social can be confusing and polarizing, and its ultimate use (and usefulness) for business can be unclear.
If you take one thing from this post, however, let it be this: Your business needs to be on social media. The channels, voice, content, and strategy you’ll use are up for debate—the fact that you need to be on social is not.
Your customers, both current and future, are on social media. It’s where most of them live and play personally and professionally. This means, you should be, too.
However, before we dive into the technicalities of how to establish and grow your presence on social media, let’s take a step back and briefly discuss what social media is…and isn’t.
To really do social media right—and stand out in a sea of business profiles—you must understand and adhere to these principles. If you don’t, you’ll just be one more forgotten post.
And to really do social media, you need to start by asking yourself one question: Should you be on social media?
This might seem like an odd question—after all, didn’t I just say you should be? However, this is question based on resources and commitment, not business need. Unless you’re willing to dedicate the resources and time, it may not be the right move for you right now.
Let’s talk about why.
Creating an interesting and relatable social media presence takes time.
It takes planning.
It doesn’t take a team, but it does take at least one dedicated individual who will find relevant content, write compelling shareable copy, use the right hashtags, tag the right people, and draw the right connections between what you’re sharing, why you’re sharing it, and who you’re sharing it with. All of this takes time.
Social media is not a throwaway—in many cases, it is the first impression a prospect will have with your business and, as such, can be critically important.
Social media one of the most commonly used mechanisms for:
Followers expect quick, timely responses.
Growing a social media presence can take time—months, sometimes years. Just like planning your social content takes time, seeing the effects of this carefully curated content will take time, too. Social media is also not a quick fix for an ailing marketing program—it is an added bonus to a well-functioning one.
So, this all sounds like a lot of work, right? I can hear the question now—“How will this even benefit my business?”
I’m glad you asked.
Stop and put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes for a moment. Maybe your network is down, your computer is broken, or you just realized you probably need to outsource your IT because you just don’t have the time and internal resources to do it yourself.
As your potential customer, what’s the first thing you do when you’re considering a business? I know what the first thing I do is—I Facebook them, and then Instagram them. And then I judge them—on the content, on the copy, on the posting frequency, on the quality of posts. And if I think they’re lacking, it tarnishes my opinion of them—sometimes to the point where I may not do business with them. And if they’re not available on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social network, then they often don’t even register on my radar.
I bet you do that, too.
Here’s something else I do: I Google them. And guess what shows up on the first page of results for any Google search of a company? Their social profiles—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram.
Social media is the front line and first impression for your business. If you’re not on social, you’re missing out on a critical, and large, portion of your potential customer base. Ignore social media, and you’re ignoring expanding your business footprint.
So now you know why you need to be on social media. But not all social networks are created equal. In the next installment of this series, we’ll talk about which networks you should be on and why.
Anne Chaconas is Marketing Manager, Social and Content at SolarWinds MSP
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