Social Media – the 21st Century Perspective

Like it or not, social media is here to stay.

If you’ve grown up with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, using it will be as natural as breathing, but for those of us over a certain age (not mentioning any numbers) it can seem daunting and the thought of using it can send us into complete denial or running for the nearest hiding place!

Unfortunately, hiding won’t make it go away and if you’re a small business then adopt this attitude at your peril, as not only can using social media to promote your business, help raise your profile but done in the right way it can bring significant benefits; whether you’re selling products or services to consumers or other businesses – there will be an appropriate platform if you’re willing to take the step and harness its power.

A word of warning though – don’t treat social media as a box-ticking exercise! If you have run your own business for some time, it can be easy to look at any kind of digital marketing as simply a ‘bolt-on’ to your business – register for your Facebook account, get your website up and Bob’s your uncle, but this is not a one-off solution like buying extra data on your mobile account, it requires time, creativity and investment.  Done well, having an active social media account can bring in new business leads and get your product or service in front of a wide range of people; done badly it can have a more detrimental effect than having no social media at all, so don’t just bung some text in the white box, add a photo and press post in the hope that someone will see it and react; look at your posts as part of the bigger picture that is relationship building..  Ideally you will have a marketing strategy where your advertisements, website, networking events and social media will all be delivering the same message or developing a core theme that provides the customer with a consistent story.

So, I’ve convinced you of the importance of having a robust digital present but where do you start?

If the whole idea seems daunting, get some practice! There are many online courses (Facebook has its own training) that can be found via a quick Google search, or if you learn better in a classroom, take a look at face to face courses – quite often free or at a minimal cost especially if you’re a member of a networking group or chamber of commerce – I’ve listed some examples below.  If all this is too much and you want to focus on your existing work rather than keeping up online, then outsource it!  Social media is big business and there are many social media marketing experts out there, both agencies and freelance individuals whom you can find by looking on LinkedIn, asking for recommendations or searching the internet. Be aware though that this is a skill and it will attract a rate commensurate with the value given. As social media content planning can be quite a time-hungry activity, you can expect to pay upwards of at least £250 a month for approximately 3 posts a week on multiple platforms.

So many platforms, so much to consider; but all essential for 21st century business!

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