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Should you use social media for your business?

By Mike Forrest, Owner/CEO at Archmore Business Web

How important is the use of Social Media?

In my business, I am frequently asked by my clients if they should be using social media sites. Social media has been all the rage and is not likely to go away. Therefore, it seems like the thing to do. Of all those people visiting Facebook, for example, surely some of them would see your information and decide to do business with you or visit your website. I am going to refer to Facebook a lot in this post but you can substitute any other social media platform.

One of the things I like about marketing a business on the web is the ability to measure results and to see what others are doing. Before I tell you how you can determine if working on your social media would help you, let me tell you why it might be of use.

Social Media benefits from Facebook, Twitter, etc.

There are at least two benefits you can get from having a business Facebook page. First, page visitors, and their friends who find out about you, could become customers. Second, search engines use information gleaned on the web concerning mentions of your business to determine how your website is listed in searches. This means that engaging in social media will help your website get listed higher up in searches. Your business Facebook page or Twitter feed is an excellent place to mention your own business and include a link back to your website. In addition, it is a way to get mentions on the Facebook pages of others and spread the word even more quickly.

One thing you should know is that not everyone who has liked your Facebook page will see your posts. As a matter of fact, the statistics show that about 10 percent of those who liked your page will actually see your posts. If you have 500 likes, your posts are being presented to only 50 people.

Cost of Facebook or other social media property

Free? Not exactly! Facebook does not charge you anything for it but you need people to look at your Facebook page to get any benefit from it. If no one actually visits your Facebook page it will do no good. The page should have the image you wish to present in your business. A Facebook page is not something you set up and forget. It requires effort continuously and this is where the costs occur. You can subcontract this work to someone like me or do it yourself. Either way, this will cost you something. A custom design Facebook page could cost $500 – to a few thousand dollars and you can easily spend upwards of 10 hours a week maintaining and posting to it. Your yearly cost for a Facebook page, depending on how you value your time could exceed $25,000.

Here is how you determine if you should have a Facebook page

Step 1 – Determine a few words that those searching on the web for your services may be using in the search box. My example is a lawn care company that does mowing, spraying and landscape services for small business and consumers. One of the most offered services is lawn mowing services. Here, I searched for ‘lawn mowing service’:
Google lawn mowing service

If your business is not listed in the top 5-10 listings you may have something to gain.

Step 2 -Look to see who is listed and if they are doing the same things you are.

The first 3 businesses are from Google’s Maps listings. Click on each of the listings and observe if they have a Facebook page link on their home page. The first one has links to their Google page, Facebook, Angie's List, and BBB. The next one has only Facebook and a BBB page and the third one does not have a website.

Step 3 – Look to see the amount of attention that their social media is getting from the owner. In this example, the ones with a Facebook page have few posts at all. The most recent post for one of them is two months ago and the other one only has a February post (8 months ago).

The next three listings are there because they supposedly offer lawn mowing services even though they may not be located in Westerville, Ohio. In these listings, for example, the #1 listing is a business doing lawn mowing, #2 is a directory of lawn mowing businesses, and number 3 is another directory.

If these listings are ahead of yours and they are NOT using Facebook or any other social media site very much, I would say it is time to look at other methods to bring your web presence to the top. There are many things you can do to your website and on the web that do not involve Facebook. You can use paid ads that you only pay for when someone goes to your website; you can place lots of keyword-rich content on your website and you can get yourself listed in multiple directories on the web, to name a few. Most of these things do not require the constant maintenance or as much of it as Facebook requires.

As a small business owner, you must know that it is not enough to just do things right but that you must do the right things. If you are a lawn care business in Westerville, Ohio, my location, setting up and managing social media sites should not be a priority. This is what I would advise my clients for this particular business in this particular area.

I am not against engaging in social media for anyone but as in many things, it must be used in perspective. Usually, there are other things regarding web marketing that will provide a small business more results than social media for the given effort. In my example, the given business should look at other avenues of getting noticed on the web and many of which cost less than setting up and maintaining social media sites.