FOR YOUR BUSINESS
TALK TO MOST small-business owners about
their marketing programs and pretty soon the
topic will turn to social media. Should you use it?
How? Which social media platforms should you
use? Is it worth it? What’s the return on investment (ROI) on the resources spent on social media
marketing? It can be confusing.
Here’s why small businesses love social media.
• You can connect and engage directly with
customers, contacts and fans.
• You can deepen customer relationships and
respond to issues quickly.
• You can be in front of followers and customers frequently, even daily.
• You can reach highly targeted prospects by
purchasing boosted posts and ads.
Here’s why small businesses hate social media.
• It takes a lot of time.
• It increasingly takes money to pay for ads
or for staff to manage, or both.
• Deciding what to post is challenging.
• It is hard to measure ROI.
A key to small-business social media success
is to choose the right channel or channels for your
specific type of business or product or service. You
don’t need to be—or want to be—everywhere. It’s
just too time-consuming. So, how do you differen-
tiate among leading sites? Here’s a comparison.
Facebook: Reaches highly targeted prospects,
probably better than other social media channels;
best for consumer-oriented products and services.
Pinterest and Instagram: Go-to channels if you
sell something with a strong visual component.
LinkedIn: Best if you provide business-to-busi-
ness professional services.
Twitter: For media or communication compa-
nies or influencers with a large following.
Using social media as a sales channel takes a
lot of time and, increasingly, money. Weigh the
benefits of social media against other ways you
would spend your time and money. You may be
better off exhibiting at one important trade show
rather than spending an entire year on Facebook.
But no business can succeed without marketing,
and social media is the marketing channel of
our time. C
Social media for biz
Rhonda Abrams is the
author of ;; books, including
Successful Business Plan:
Secrets & Strategies, now
in its sixth edition. Connect
Abrams SmallBusiness, and
Register for Rhonda’s free
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BY SUSAN JOHNSTON TAYLOR
BUSINESS OWNERS get advice from every
corner: potential partners and investors,
mentors, family members, podcasts, business books and former professors, to name
a few. But some of that advice is just plain
bad. It could be from well-meaning mentors
who don’t understand a specific industry or
new business model. Or maybe the advice in
a popular business book is outdated or isn’t
applicable to a particular business’s situation.
Here’s how a few Costco members who
own businesses decide what advice to follow
and what to ignore.
Consider the source. Who is offering
the advice? Have they run a successful business before or do they know the industry?
If they’re retired, have they kept up with
recent trends? Who else has followed that
advice, and has it benefited them?
Ryan Battles, who co-founded Harpoon
harpoonapp.com) a financial goal-setting
app for freelancers, favors the advice of
serial entrepreneurs. “There are a lot of
single-hit entrepreneurs out there, but
when someone has enjoyed repeated suc-
cesses, that is when I perk up and listen to
what they have to say,” he says.
Calculate the cost. Does the advice carry
a subscription cost or a large upfront cost
to acquire new equipment? Could it cost
money if the advice backfires?
“Depending on the severity of possible
outcomes, I will dissect the advice to determine what would be the worst-case scenario
if I act on this information and it is not valid
or appropriate for my needs,” says Camille
D. Jamerson, CEO and senior consultant
with management and consulting firm CDJ
& Associates in Southfield, Michigan.
“What will I lose? If I can afford the loss,
moving forward is less risky.”
Go with your gut. Many business owners
find that their intuition is the best way to
filter good advice from bad.
“Growing a successful business depends
on taking all assets available, including
business advice, weighing them against my
mission and deciding what’s right,” says
Rachel Mullen, who owns Music City Suds
musiccitysuds.com), a soap company in
Nashville. “In the end, it’s up to the owner
or manager to decide what works for their
company and what doesn’t.” C
Susan Johnston Taylor is a business and
Filtering good advice from bad