When many small business owners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area think about social media, they automatically think about Facebook and Twitter. I usually ask them why, apart from the popularity, they want to “stampede” into Twitter and Facebook if they are not using social media right now for their businesses. Usually the responses are something like:
- “Well everyone I know is telling me to get on this site.”
- “The entire world is on those. I should be able to get a piece of the pie, right?”
- “My kids are all over these sites.”
Not that these are bad reasons, but social media requires so much more than just jumping on these sites!
There are many things to consider, especially the “BIG PICTURE” of actually using social media intelligently instead of it being simply a business fad. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I have the time to contribute value on a consistent basis to these sites?
- Am I willing to interact with prospective customers/clients and “deal with people” (instead of looking at everything like a numbers game)?
- Am I willing to hold back on “hard selling” on these types of sites?
- What are my strengths when it comes to an online presence?
- Am I willing to go the extra mile to earn trust in order to build my authority?
- Am I willing to be 100% transparent in my actions?
Many business owners, when actually faced with these questions, cannot say “Yes” to these questions or define their strengths. If that is your situation, especially the “time” question, then you may not be able to derive value from Facebook and Twitter. There are “social media”, however, which are more set-and-forget and do not require as much consistent interaction. These include:
- adding helpful, “non-spammy” videos to video-sharing sites like YouTube
- creating a podcast series or a weekly/monthly radio show on a site like BlogTalkRadio.com
- writing helpful “how-to” articles and submitting them to sites like Ezinearticles.com
- many others
Determine which of these options plays to your personal strengths.
There are a few more things to consider, especially if you prefer to pay for advertising. You can use social media to reach your designated audience on a site like Facebook; but you have to know your numbers. This means:
- knowing the expected pre-tax profit you will receive over the average lifetime value of one new customer. For example, a pizza place in Dallas may make $3 profit (average) per new customer. If the average new customer makes 10 orders over his/her lifetime, then the pizza place expects a lifetime value pre-tax profit of roughly $30. An attorney in Dallas, whose average new client uses his/her services 3 times at an average profit of $1000, will have a lifetime pre-tax profit of $3000 per new customer. Make sure that you have a good estimate of your numbers, backed by real numbers
- having a very good idea of the demographics of your ideal prospect. For example, you may determine that your ideal prospect has a college degree earned in Texas, earns between $80,000 and $100,000 per year, has a certain political leaning, and has more than one child still in grade school. You can then extrapolate that information to the fields which Facebook ads allow you choose. Nonetheless, you also can advertise your videos on YouTube and you also can simply pay for advertising on regular (non-social media) websites if you know that your ideal customers spend time on those sites
Finally, you do not have to jump into Facebook and Twitter right away for two reasons:
- There may be too much “clutter” on Twitter and Facebook in your niche for you to establish yourself as a trusted authority. Perhaps a second-tier social network (instead of Facebook) or a second-tier microblog (instead of Twitter) may have the audience you want to reach without having as much competition
- If you offer services in a specific geographic area then you may want to find social media sites which cater to your niche and/or the specific area. For example, if I offered dog training services in Dallas then I could spend time finding an active Dallas-specific forum and/or a Texas-specific dog lovers social network. This is hyper-targeted social media, and you should be able to do well if you play by the rules of the specific site where your audience is spending time
Again, there are several considerations to make regarding one’s social media presence. Just remember that you do not have to rush right away into Facebook and Twitter. If you do, then chances are that you will not see a ROI worth your time unless you simply are lucky. By being artful and having a basic game plan you should begin to do well in social media.
If you need help determining your social media strategy, especially if you need help with Dallas social media, then please contact us for more information.
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