Is Social Media for You?
Many business owners debate whether or not social media is worth their time. This is kind of like asking if customers are worth their time. Author, venture capitalist, public speaker and entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk is the author of The Thank You Economy (and several other books), a book about the way customers and businesses interact on and offline. He is quoted as saying:
"When I hear people debate the ROI of social media? It makes me remember why so many businesses fail. Most businesses are not playing the marathon. They're playing the sprint. They're not worried about lifetime value and retention. They're worried about short-term goals." ...Gary Vaynerchuk
Mr. Vaynerchuk writes a lot about relationships in his book and I have been known to write a fair bit about them as well. Many of my blog posts mention that the way we build relationships is the same as it was many years ago. We build relationships person to person, both customer and business owner have a need for a long-term relationship. Mr. Vaynerchuk goes on to suggest that social media creates a small town atmosphere, not unlike the one that existed when our grandparents were young. In these small towns, people communicating face to face and word of mouth could make or break a business. I think we can all agree that social media is word of mouth multiplied.
Why do both customer and business owner need and desire a relationship? Relationships are built over time as we communicate with each other. Trust is built or lost based on what each party says or does. And we determine who we will do business with as a consumer based on who we trust the most. The business owner desires a relationship with the consumer so he or she can provide products and services that benefit the consumer over the long term. The business does not want to find a new customer for every exchange. The consumer desires a relationship where they can trust who they are doing business with, knowing the business has their best interest at heart. The customer does not want to find a new provider each time they wish to purchase a specific product or service.
Social media creates a communication conduit that allows business owners and consumers to relay information, ideas, and opinions in a face to face manner without concern for geography. Yes, there are negatives to using social media, but for every negative, there is a corresponding positive. And when it comes right down to it, the positives and the negatives don't matter because social media is the way the vast majority of consumers are interacting. And if a business does not interact with its customers it is setting itself up for failure.
Is it necessary to be on every social media network? No, but it is important that you are on the networks your customers frequent. New tools are being built every day allowing you to manage social media posts on multiple networks from one place. Many of the networks themselves allow you to schedule posts and manage when customers see specific items. Setting aside time to manage social media is as critical as responding to emails.
Will you go out of business without social media? Probably not. Will your competition be on social media and create relationships with some of your customers? Probably.