The simple answer is yes, but the real questions should be, “Where does your business need to be in the social media scene?” If you are selling watches out of the trunk of your car, Foursquare may not be the place for you. But I will say this, if you aren’t on some social forum, you are missing out on millions of opportunities and just because you don’t participate, doesn’t mean your business won’t be talked about. Why not lead the conversation?

Who does it well?

There are several companies that get social media and how to use it. Southwest Airlines may have some tough customers, but we all get a little edgy when it comes to our flights and vacation. When customers Tweet at or about @SouthwestAir, most will get a Tweet back with some helpful information. From knitting needles to rebooking flights, Southwest has handled it all on Twitter. Even if you don’t have an answer yet, let your customers know someone is working on the issue so they know their complaints are being heard. Southwest can also be found on YouTube, one of the more difficult places to be because creating video content can take more time. Each week, Southwest posts a new video on their Youtube channel to connect with the quickly growing online video watching audience.

Who missed the mark?

At the beginning of this year, Nestle had an issue with their Facebook page and their logo. Someone working at Nestle posted (paraphrased) “Don’t change or alter our logo because it is our intellectual property.” This angered some of their fans, you can see the whole story HERE. What really threw the fans on the page for a loop wasn’t that there were rules for this forum now, but how the person was responding to posts. A company most likely doesn’t want to be known as sarcastic and snarky and that is exactly how this person was portraying them. Fans were so mad that the Nestle stock even dropped. Social media is a great tool, but you have to remember you don’t hold all the power anymore and PR rule number one, the customer is still always right.

So where should you start?

It’s hard to determine where to begin when you are first entering the world of social media. It’s good to start small and build on that, if you try to take on too many sites at first you might get overwhelmed. Start with one site and build a fan base there then move on to the next social site and build a base there. This is also helpful so you can announce to your fans/followers that you can be found in a new place and they will likely follow you there as well.

That being said, all social media sites are not equal. For example, Facebook is more of a relationship builder and discussion forum. Facebook doesn’t have a small character limit and makes it easier to share multiple photos and videos. Twitter on the other hand is short sweet and to the point, it asks more “what are you doing right now?” or “What is the latest news story you just found?” With its trending topics, it is a great way to keep up with current events in the world as opposed to just your circle of friends. In a study found HERE, it shows that people are more likely to click a link on Twitter than on Facebook and your tactics should reflect this as well. Ask opinion questions on Facebook and give information about your niche on Twitter.

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