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Social Media – Not For All Niche Businesses

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Social Media and Niche Businesses

By Scott Spooner

Social Media. The promise as that all businesses coan take advantage and profit from a niche marketing strategy that includes social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like. While this may be true in theory, the reality is that many smaller businesses – and especially those in niche markets – aren’t ready for a social media strategy, and would be wasting both time and money by pursuing one.

Strong words? Let me explain.

I have spoken with dozens of small business owners who want to establish a presence in social media. They see the vast number of people posting on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, and following each other on LinkedIn. With such an enorous prospect pool, why shouldn’t they jump in? Why indeed! In short, they have nothing to talk about.

Even now most business owners know little about social media. They may be aware that their children, or grandchildren, post, follow, or tweet, but they have little or no direct experience with either the platforms or the process. They focus on the “media” side of the term, and completely ignore the “social” side. So they find someone to create a Facebook page for them, start posting sales messages, then don’t understand why no one is stopping by that page and liking them. Worse yet, they don’t grasp why the Facebook page, or Twitter account, isn’t generating web traffic to their home page or foot traffic to their store.

The truth of the matter is that there is no reason for the traffic to flow.

Social media is about creating conversations and developing a community. It isn’t about, “hey, come over here and buy this”.  When I am called in to remedy the situation, one of the first questions I ask is about the source of the content that they are posting up. Invariably, it is always tied to the latest product or service promotion. And that’s where the online conversation stops.

To be successful with social media, a busienss owner needs to think in terms of community; i.e. what is the business doing in the local community? Tell me about the community events you sponsor, or the charities you support. Tell me about the last Chamber mixer you atteneded, or the local Little League team you cheer. Give me a reason to become interested in your company and then I will follow you. Sales will follow from there.

Can sales messages be added from time to time? Of course. Just remember that the bigger part of social media is the “social” side. You wouldn’t attend a cocktail party and spend all of your time meeting people to hand out business cards would you? So don’t do it on the social media sites. Let people get to know your business and the role it plays in your community. That’s your story. That’s your lead in. That’s how you get people to listen to you and follow you.

And that’s when the traffic starts to flow and sales start to increase.

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