Aaron VanderGalien is a Senior Partner at Deksia, he founded Deksia in 2004, and Deksia has been recognized for its work both regionally and nationally.View all articles written by this author
Should every business be using some form of social media? The answer is yes…but only if you can afford it. If you act like social media is free, you will damage you company. If pressed, I would tell people to err on the side of not using social media instead of using social media poorly.
Some business owners don’t think of social media as costly, so they believe they can use all of the available platforms. They have the impression that social media is different from the real world. But I explain it like this: if I came to your business and found the last time your lights were on was April 5th, 2014, I probably wouldn’t come to your business. If the last time your lights were on in social media was on April 5th of 2014, I wouldn’t look at your business as a viable one.
It’s not as simple as having a platform and not using it. You have to welcome and greet customers, and you have to talk to customers, just as you would in the real world. People get hung up on the fact that social media is free; but it’s really just the platform that’s free. Here’s a plot of land: build whatever you want on it. But if you just put up a little barn you bought from Lowe’s and say it’s your viable business, is that a solution that will create a sense of trust with your customers? It’s just using something just because you can, not necessarily because you should.
I’m not saying that social media isn’t something to engage with; I’m saying that your use hinges on determining where your communities are online. Are they on Pinterest? Are they on Facebook? As a small business owner, it’s not so much that you should have every platform…it’s having the platforms that matter most for your business and to your customers.
For example, any business that revolves around DIY would do well to cultivate an active Pinterest presence. If your target market is 30-45 year-old married women interested in arts and crafts, and you’re an arts and crafts provider, you should own Pinterest. That should be your domain, because you need to actually show people what you’re talking about, as opposed to Twitter, which is more about starting a dialogue.
You’d be better off not engaging with social media than to establish a social media presence and not turn the light on. That’s the challenge of social media: using restraint. When there are so many options available to you, it can be very tempting to overindulge. It’s so easy to do it poorly; take the time to find the right platforms, and the initiative to treat those platforms in the same way you would treat an actual storefront.