Do you REALLY need social media?

Do you actually need to be on social media for your business to be found? Is it really necessary for you to have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest? The answer is: it depends.

I'm going to go over the three things you need to consider before you dive into social media.

Your business

It's best always to start at square one and think about your business and your business goals. Where do you want to be in a year? Where are your clients? How do they find you? If part of your goals includes ramping up your presence online (not including a website, you should already have one of those) then the short answer is yes: yes you should be on social media. If however you're in a profession, where you need to consider client confidentiality, certain laws and restrictions, the journey into social media may not be necessary. Take for instance, a surgeon. A surgeon gets their clients from referrals from other Dr's, and do not have to advertise their services* to the general public. Where this would be different is if the surgeon were to start an Instagram account solely for educational purposes, not to gain clients. There are many accounts, on Instagram, for example, that are used as teaching tools in the medical profession. Educational profiles on social media do increase the social authority of the user (the user looks like the expert in the field), and the goal is to increase their professional profile and significance in the field, which is another topic for another day.

Question to ask yourself: What would be the purpose of social media for my sales goals.

Your audience

Your audience is your customer and although there maybe 1 billion users on Facebook, this does not mean that your customer is going to be there. Perhaps they prefer to call you, or go for coffee. Maybe you get new business from referrals or your customers are used to using other platforms like YELP or google search.

A large part of having a social media presence is customer service and responding to questions. Again, back to your ideal customer, are they likely to do that or pick up the phone or send you a Facebook message? If you think that your customers are more likely to message you on a social media platform, you need to be ready to tackle the comments and messages.

Question to ask yourself: Do your customers use social media when looking for your types of services?

Your Marketing Plan

Social media is an extension of your marketing plan, and in your marketing plan you should have outlined your audience (the who, what, where) and business goals. Marketing plans also give you focus for each month and setting goals for reach (how many people will see my business) and conversion. A marketing expert can help you set up a marketing plan and profile your ideal customer. Once you have your marketing plan in place, and there is a digital element in the plan, then you're ready to take on the online world.

Question to ask yourself: Do you have a clear marketing plan, and digital strategy?

Going through this is almost sounds like no one should have social media, which isn't true. If you want to reach an audience that is online, that find their information and referrals to local businesses online and shop need social media.

Next article (next week) will be on choosing a platform that is right for you.

*article was written in Canada, where surgeons do not advertise their services to the general public.