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Social Media: An Unnecessary Evil for Small Businesses?

I was making my way home from work the other day, strolling through Bognor Regis when I walked past the office of a local taxi service. I noticed that an A4 piece of paper had been sellotaped to the window, announcing to anyone passing that the company now has both a Twitter and Facebook account. This amused me since I felt that not many people would bother connecting with a small taxi firm online – why would they? Taxis are ordered by phone not via Facebook wall posts!

It turns out that I was correct. I checked out the statistics once I had arrived home. The taxi company currently has one fan on their Facebook page and three followers on Twitter. One could argue that this is because they have only recently “announced” (not sure a comic sans window offering counts as an announcement as such) but I would argue that it is because some businesses are not matched to the realm of social media.

Because social media is very much the “in thing” of our contemporary digitalised era, many companies feel inclined to sign up for various social networking accounts. But this is a largely pointless process unless you plan to use these accounts regularly and with purpose. The clue is in the name – you NEED to be social with such platforms by regularly posting tweets or sharing news on your Facebook feed.

Whereas a big brand like Coca Cola can use these platforms to interact with their (universally aged) customers and to announce special deals and/or promotions, a small taxi firm with a audience comprised of a few hundred Bognor Regis residents (most of which are OAPs) will not fare well when it comes to making waves within the various online networking mediums.

Unless you have the financial means to pay for someone to run these accounts also, they will consume a lot of your time which could be better spent on other areas of your business.

I urge small business to really consider the needs and audience of their business when it comes to deciding whether or not social media is a useful, additional tool for fueling business. Having profiles set up online that have a pathetically low number of followers could actually be detrimental to the image of your business – if only 16 people “Like” your company it will give the impression that it just isn’t that good.

Kat Cole is an SEO copywriter with a love of social media and all things Google related. Working in SEO is far more stimulating than her old job at a rental offices firm!

Posted in Social Networking. Tags: , , ,

2 Replies

  1. It seems that a lot of companies try the “throw it against the wall and see what sticks’ approach to social media. This paper ad in a window is a good example. If the local taxi company really wants to build a social presence, they would need to integrate the campaign into their daily business. For instance, handing out coupons to fares that can only be redeemed through twitter or FB.

  2. You make excellent points in this article! I wish all small business owners could read this when they consider using social media.

    1 – Social media is not a stand-alone tool. It needs to part of a complete marketing strategy otherwise it’s set up to fail.

    2 – Social media is a conversation and if you aren’t around to participate, it’s a monologue.

    3 – So true – a weak, lack luster presence on social media is probably worse than no presence at all.

    So many business owners take the approach you describe – they set up a presence on one or two sites, let it sit and then decide social media doesn’t work.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. Social media can work to market a business if you take the time to identify where your customers spend their time online, know what you want to achieve with social media & actively participate,

    I’m heading over to post this article on my Fan Page & tweet it! Thank you again.

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