Tag Archives: twitter

Social media for small businesses– a 5-step approach

Small businesses find it hard to embrace social media. Not because they are conservative, but because they tend to dedicate all their valuable time to their core business. The consequence is that they risk missing out on opportunities to get new leads and new clients.

Small businesses stand to gain a lot from social media. The question is, how do we get engaged without making a lot of mistakes and losing valuable time? The following 5-step approach can be used as a guide to get your business quickly and safely involved in social media.

  1. Plan and measure

Every social media campaign starts with a plan; what are your goals, who do you want to reach and where do you find them, how much time and money are you willing to invest. By putting this carefully in writing and keeping track of everything, you create measurable goals. With the help of tools –some of which are available as ‘freeware’ on the web- you can measure the effect of your campaigns on a regular basis.

  1. Start small and be careful

Don’t start straight away with Facebook AND Twitter AND YouTube AND… Think carefully which medium fits your business. Find out what clients and competitors do. Develop a feel for one medium. Develop your profile, make sure the information about your business is complete as well as representative. Build from there and expand your network.

  1. Communication is not the same as promotion

Have you ever managed to get a new client by telling him how wonderful you are? Social media are not suitable for sales talk but meant for serious, honest communication. Listen, ask questions and respond to online comments. Especially to the negative ones! The main issue is to come across as authentic and reliable – just like your products.

  1. Give freely of your time and do it with passion

And I thought it didn’t take much time! Time which we haven’t got. Well, it’s not about spending a lot of time, it’s about spending time on social media consistently over a long time. Even if it’s only ten minutes a day. If you are not seriously and passionately engaged, you might as well forget it.

  1. Don’t do everything yourself

The classic pitfall of many a small business entrepreneur. Thinking that you need to do everything yourself, while there may be someone in your company who has a passion for social media. Make him or her responsible! And don’t hesitate to engage outside help, it will prevent you from making costly mistakes and losing valuable time.

Social media for municipalities

New research shows that less than 50% of European municipalities (towns and cities) make any use of social media. Yet over 390 million Europeans are involved in social networking and see Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and other social media as primary means of communication. A missed opportunity if ever there was one. But why should municipalities employ social media? How can they benefit from them?

Many municipalities view social media as an inconvenient phenomenon. Yet a majority of civil servants, when not on duty, use social media on a daily basis to interact with friends, family and even to do business. So where is the catch? Apparently some of the municipalities’ regulations and habits with regards to communication with citizens stand in the way of embracing these new technologies, which causes municipalities to miss out on a unique opportunity to engage citizens.

Here are just a few of the ways in which municipalities can benefit from social media:

  • Find out more about what citizens want and care about
  • Make citizens more engaged with and understanding of municipal policies
  • Create more and better ways of involving citizens
  • Create wider support for municipal initiatives
  • Improve citizens’ knowledge of municipal facilities by making available online data
  • Improve quality of municipal initiatives through citizens’ and businesses’ contributions

A three (or thirty) step approach
OK, so as a municipality we can benefit from the use of social media. But how do we go about it? Just starting to tweet or setting up a blog will not do the trick, surely? No, as with every initiative, careful planning will help you to be succesful. On the web there are a great deal of plans available, some simple, some very elaborate. Have a look at http://www.slideshare.net/HeatherWhaling/social-media-for-municipalities-government.

Basically, it comes down to three steps:

  1. Listen carefully – what’s happening in the municipality, who is saying what and how about municipal issues, how does this affect us
  2. Facilitate citizens – make social media available to talk with and about the municipality, through dedicated Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, blogs and sites
  3. Take part in the conversation – listen, divulge and react – and keep it up!

In part 2 we will discuss social media strategies for municipalities.