Social media is a powerful tool for the nation’s 28 million small businesses, who generally have limited marketing budgets and employees dedicated to marketing and sales. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat all maintain the attractive promise of enabling a business the power to connect with customers, promote products and services, and push out key information that helps to drive the brand.
However, social media—as powerful as it is—can be dangerous (at worst) or a time waster (at best) if the right channel isn’t selected and built to achieve the right results for your business needs.
I often think back to the horrible example of 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com, who horrifically used the death of Paul Walker as a perceived opportunity to sell car insurance. In 2013, the company tweeted—and publicized these tweets to national media—that it hoped Walker had car insurance: “Yo, Paul…did u have auto insurance for that crash? Hope so.”
Unfortunately, any business call fall prey to bad judgment (which then leads to bad public relations); especially if the company doesn’t have a social media policy in place that outlines the tone, tenor, and purpose of its presence on social media in the first place.
As a bank marketer, I’ve seen many of my colleagues on their social media accounts acting as customer service representatives—putting out fires with customers on an almost hourly basis. And, I’ve seen the best intended social media efforts simply fall dormant due to lack of time and effort.
You might have a variety of reasons to extend your marketing program into the social media realm. Without a doubt, it’s a powerful and low-cost vehicle to market. However, be aware of the pitfalls and perhaps start with one platform (I strongly endorse LinkedIn) and grow your efforts after some benchmarks and success have been reached.