Small businesses can no longer afford to ignore the social media revolution, as consumers are discussing brands regardless of whether or not they have a presence on certain channels.
"Social media is just another channel where there are millions of people talking about your product, needs, problems and everything else," commented NearDesk founder and chief executive Tom Ball, adding that it is "incredibly important" for brands to be a part of that conversation.
However, businesses should go beyond just listening on social media; engagement is key in order to be successful.
Mr Ball suggested organisations consider how they would act in real life and then approach their social media activities in the same way. For example, some businesses repeat the same message over and over again on social media, but if someone did the same think in the pub, they would not be too popular.
"Again, if there is a party, you wouldn't walk in and just start talking about what you want to talk about. You need to figure out what is the conversation and then join in at that point," advised Mr Ball.
Which small business social media channel?
And just as you would pick your social gatherings smartly, small business social media strategies should carefully consider where resources spent would yield the best returns. According to Mr Ball, most conversations about brands happen on Twitter, followed by Facebook and then LinkedIn for some businesses.
"It's all about going where your audience go – there are other sites which can be more powerful for some groups like Pinterest for photo sharing things such as crafts, or Google+ for more technical users," he noted.
Since its launch last year, Google+ has been growing in importance in some small business SEO and social strategies. Google's Matt Cutts recently suggested +1s do not necessarily carry that much weight in search algorithms yet, but social signals are important.
Speaking at SES San Francisco last week, he said: "Social will become an increasingly important way to get an understanding of what is the best quality."
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