7 point plan on how small businesses should use Social Media

31 March 2011


As part of my work with small business I am often asked how they can harness the opportunity presented by the internet – in particular social media.  Currently a very fashionable media tool, social media needs to be treated with care.  It can easily backfire on you.

Here is a seven point plan on how small businesses can effectively use social media.

1. Decide what you want to achieve
Set clear, business-led goals for your social media activity.  Types of goals might be raising awareness of your brand among specific customer segments; or linking your business and brand to a specific location; or simply to encourage more people to visit your website.  All are credible reasons for undertaking social media activity and all require a different approach.

2. Audit your online content
Trawl the internet to identify what is already out there regarding your business.  You are likely to have listings on aggregator sites such as, local business websites, Google Maps and review sites (such as TripAdvisor for the tourism industry).  Make sure all content about you is accurate and consistent.  Make best use of these free listings – include full descriptions, photos and web links where you can.

3. Explore and listen to what people are saying
Take a good look around the different social media sites and see what other businesses are doing – especially your direct competitors.  Set up a personal twitter account and follow industry magazines, industry associations and other representative groups from your sector, they are an excellent source of industry information.

4. Set up analysis tools
Google Analytics is a free service that provides detailed analysis of visitor traffic to your website.  This allows you to concentrate on the social media activity that’s working and ignore the things that aren’t.  Also use ‘Google Alerts’ to deliver you email alerts on new web content that will help your social media content.

5. Start with free, easy social media
Don’t be fooled, social media is about quality and not quantity.  You want to establish strong, interactive relationships with individuals that will deliver value to your business.  Start with Google Maps and free review sites (such as TripAdvisor) and then monitor and respond to the feedback you are receiving.  Once established then start to investigate blogging, content sharing (images and video) and social networking sites.

6. Integrate your social media channels
Once you have established your social media activity make sure you link them together, so they work together to improve your online profile.  All social media sites have easy to use tools to link with other channels.  If you are blogging make sure you tweet a link to it and post it on your linkedin page.

7. Evaluate results and refine activity
Measure the impact of your social media activity against your business goals.  Google Analytics will tell you how many people are visiting your website, blogs usually provide counts on how many people visit and sites such as can measure your influence with other twitter uses.