I’m often asked by friends, family and colleagues who own small businesses – “Is Facebook or Twitter better for my business?”. Some might suggest that there is a series of questions that need to be answered before determining the answer while others may imply that Facebook provides more opportunities to connect than Twitter. I’ll agree that further investigation is required before implementing a social strategy to your business, but my answer is both.
Each social platform serves a different purpose, if done properly, all can work together to benefit your endeavors. Though some industries have not completely gripped its purpose, social media is no longer a trend but rather a necessity. If you’re one of the few businesses without, what would you do when one of your clients seeks to reach you via Twitter?
We adopted a minor social strategy over a year ago at the organization I work with and only recently have we had our first instance where a client sought help via Twitter before all other forms of communication. Because of this, our marketing team was able to relay the request that just so happen to fall on a weekend when the offices were closed, to the department head who had it handled within a matter of minutes. This little occurrence, as minor as it seems, made the world of the difference for that client on that day. If they would have called, no one would have been able to answer. If they emailed, no one would have seen it until Monday. One of the most beautiful features of social media is that it can easily be monitored at any time.
Your first question might be – “How will this make me any money and how much does it cost?”. You could refer to Dell’s Twitter strategy in which they equate 10 million dollars in new revenue in 2009, or you could consider the value of client communication – not for selling, but for sharing. Both services offer a place to truly connect with your customers and share with them thoughts, ideas, blogs and even occasional sales or specials. However, if all you’re doing is promoting your products – you will fail. I’ve seen time and time again Twitter and Facebook accounts that are used by uneducated management members of the business to announce (loudly) – sales. Social media services are not there for you to shout at your customers, they’re there so the both of you can share interesting content – your customers will follow you not because of your sales but because they value the content you offer.
Small businesses can easily learn how to effectively use Twitter and Facebook to their advantage without having to hire a new employee or pay for a ‘guru’. In fact, I believe that they will benefit most, if used properly, to add content themselves – as owners of their businesses. People love to engage with one another, that is why social websites grew so quickly. This is the same for businesses, people want to engage – give them a place to do so. Large corporations like Chili’s used an invitation at the bottom of every dinner receipt offering a $1000 gift card just for filling a survey out online. At the end of the survey it offers either a chance to win another gift card ($25) or even a free appetizer just for sharing the location they went to with their Facebook friends with just a few additional clicks. If anything, this is great exposure! Most importantly, it is a perfect example of a company implementing a social strategy in all that they do.
If you don’t get you and your business involved now, imagine what other things you’ll miss along the way and the opportunity to connect with your customers may vanish. They want to be a part of your success, let them.