Small business social networking requires a plan

Companies that wish to take advantage of increasingly popular online platforms should do so carefully. It is very easy to become caught up in the possibilities that these tools confer. However, it is just as easy to use these methods amateurishly and alienate customers in the process. As a result, it is crucial that small business owners don't leap head-first into a social networking marketing campaign without first considering a few important variables.

The most important action that marketers can take is to create clear goals at the outset. Obviously, the achievement of these goals is what business marketers strive for, but it is only one of the important results of creating them. When there are objectives in mind throughout the marketing process, it helps focus the efforts on the motivating factors for developing a social media plan and helps avoid distractions which may end up pulling their campaigns in the wrong direction.

For example – if a company decides that using Facebook or Twitter will allow it to maintain contact with loyal and regular customers, that should be a primary goal. However, if the process of using social media platforms teaches a company that there are other benefits to be had besides keeping loyal consumers close, the original goal will remind them not to neglect that need once other matters have been resolved. Changing goals constantly shift the focus of efforts, making it difficult to gauge one's success or change plans in a meaningful manner.

Small businesses also need to be painfully aware of what makes social media attractive or unimpressive. To succeed on the internet, it is important to review other examples of social networking pages and profiles. After all – anyone can start a profile, so there is a certain standard that all organizations must meet if consumers are going to take them seriously.

Marketers who are just beginning to familiarize themselves with certain social media platforms should take a hard look at other companies' pages. Attempt to look at them through the eyes of a discerning customer and make lists of the things that make it helpful as well as the aspects that could be unappealing or difficult to understand.

It is also very important to collect sufficient feedback from consumers and social media users as soon as possible. If there aren't any kinds of responses to messages, statuses, updates or posts on a social media site, something may be amiss. An organization won't be able to improve unless it can receive feedback. Consider why customers may be ignoring messages and find alternative ways to appeal to their natural desire to share.  

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