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Check Yourself Before You Wreck Your Business

This bears repeating…Before you take the plunge into social media for your small business, consider what it is you want to achieve.

There is no point spending time – lots of it, and money – not so much, interacting with existing and potential customers online if you don’t have a clear idea what it is you hope accomplish.

Take some time to really think about your products or services, what your customers experience in dealing with your business, and how you can continually improve the customer interaction and recruitment process.

For example, I know everyone one of you would answer – “I want more new customers.” Yes, thank you Captain Obvious! But think a little deeper.

For instance, how will Facebook improve your sales?

How can Twitter act as your own personal coupon network? Should you direct people to your blog through Facebook or vice versa?

Can you possibly align your business with other local businesses through social media?

Before tweeting your first Tweet, blogging your innermost thoughts, or blitzing the Facebook community with useless info (to them), take some time to construct what it is you are planning to achieve, and how these social media marketing tools will help your business get closer to that goal.

For the local Carlsbad retail business – whether it’s a juice bar, dry cleaners, or day spa – social media is a complementary marketing component. An inbound marketing tool in all likelihood, other things need to be in place to achieve maximum benefit from using social media in your small business.

Foundational Elements of Social Success

An effective team that is on board with your clearly defined goals, and a business owner that cares about what people say is a great foundation.

An up to date website, a consistently published blog, and robust but not overkill SEO – search engine optimization – also comprise essential underlying elements.

Email newsletters, customer surveys, and online video are some more ways most of us can use to build off that solid foundation. We can add mobile marketing to that growing list too, ensuring our web presence and social media identity is well formatted for seamless interaction through cell phones and tablets.

Do you know some local businesses that seem to get social media as a marketing tool – maybe some pizza places, or salons, or real estate agents?

Think about it, people are on their phones ALL the time. Take this hypothetical; I walk into your Encinitas restaurant and have a great meal. Before even receiving the check, I’m tagging your location on Foursquare and Facebook Places, and notifying all of my “friends” or virtual connections about the great meal I just had at your place. Maybe I’m even leaving a gleaming positive review of the great food, affordable prices, and dedicated staff…That is word of mouth, amplified for the digital age!

And it took me all of 2 minutes to blast out my incredible dining experience, this happens more than local business owners are aware.

Social media is another arrow in your digital marketing quiver. Use it, but use it wisely – don’t fall victim to starting an active presence just to have it soon relegated to useless.

Social media is another marketing tool that can help local businesses acquire new customers and improve existing customer loyalty.

But it’s a tool, and if we don’t know how to use it correctly we will not see the desired results.

Take a good hard look in the mirror now, so you don’t spend more time and an incredible amount of money later trying to fix something that was broken before you went social with your Carlsbad small business.

Social media will digitally amplify your business word of mouth – if that’s not a good thing, then you have more pressing concerns than Facebook or Twitter.

It will serve your efforts best, any marketing efforts, to take an objective look at your business.

What’s it like to walk in your door for the first time, what’s the first impression you communicate to potential customers?

How does your staff feel about your customers?

How do your customers feel about your products or services?

These are just a few questions, but the point is taking an objective look at your products or services, and making sure you develop a plan before taking your small business into the social media realm. Even if it’s just an informal type outline you compile at the next staff meeting, start the conversation and take some time to plan before taking that first step.

Mistake number one most small businesses make is jumping into social media with both feet, but without a plan.

That and setting up a personal Facebook profile rather than a business page. And then there’s having a dedicated person to handle the updating, linking, optimization, promotion, integration, posting, customer communications, account management, technical support…

Click here for the proper BUSINESS PAGE setup for Facebook:

You’ll want to complete that registration process for your business Facebook page, which is totally different from the PERSONAL PROFILE set up. Get started with that, then get a Twitter profile started here:

Initiating the Facebook and Twitter profiles should be relatively easy, even though there are some pitfalls it’s pretty straightforward. Develop your social media plan, and decide how that is going to integrate with any existing marketing plan for your local retail business. Facebook and Twitter profiles are a great start, but that’s just the beginning.

Plan for after the beginning.