Some businesses are confused; a Facebook Page is not a business’s website. What are the differences between a website and a Facebook page?
Even further confusing this topic, Facebook is actually one of several online communities that make up ‘social media’. Each social media service has specialized purposes and attracts different types of audiences.
Let’s compare the purposes of business websites and a few popular social media services including Facebook.
|Your website||Acts like a brochure about your products, your services, your contact information, typically static information|
|A blog||A opinion-editorial, news or diary may include entertaining, teaching or eliciting a discussion from your audience|
|A forum||A system for questions and answers where the audience participates in answering or commenting on the questions|
|A mobile app||Custom software performing a function for your business like creating a shopping list, showing recent investment data or playing a game|
|Tends to be family and personal socializing where people comment, share links and pictures – information posted here is time driven and customers may complain, complement or refer a business|
|A public system similar to mobile phone text messaging where people can send ‘one liners’ announcing their current location, complements, complaints or humor – any person can watch for comments from specific people or topic|
|A community focused around resumes, employment history, co-workers and employers or clients – some people use LinkedIn to find jobs or recruit staff, others use LinkedIn to validate and share their work history|
|Google+||A combination of several Google services from Picasa photo albums, gMail, YouTube and a social community – pockets of businesses and associations use Google+ heavily|
|YouTube||A place to distribute videos, videos in this service can be searched within YouTube and embedded in your website|
What Will It Cost?
Social media is primarily time-sensitive and frequent activity is required. Social media will cost you time and communication skills.
The number of different technologies you use will require some skill and some marketing savvy. The person who is responsible for regular content in social media like posts, tweets or comments, must be able to improvise with quick, smart, productive content. Plan on a minimum of hour per day that your business will be communicating through social media services.
Marketing people sometimes refer to social media technologies as ‘marketing channels’ or ‘channels’. Your business and your customer may benefit from multiple channels, but you should consider the communication skills, time and cost of maintaining each type of technology.
The people placing the posts, comments or tweets are considered ‘community managers’ and this job may be performed by your staff or an outsourced company. If you have another company maintaining your communication, you will need to commit time to keep in touch with that company.
Be ready to spend your own staffs’ time responding to customer service complaints, questions and complements that your outsourced community manager relays to you. It’s important that you do not expect an outside company to communicate with your customers in these cases. Your community manager’s service should be similar to a specialized receptionist directing your customers to the correct contacts, services or products within your site.
Consider setting up an easy-to-use help desk (like ZenDesk) for handling complaints, questions and complements. An unhappy customer that came to you through a public technology like social media can cause a public relations crisis if they do not get communication from you. You will spend time messaging or talking to that customer, tracking your messages / tasks and ensuring the issue(s) get resolved.
Plan and Do
Small Businesses: If you are a small business, you will likely do your own website updates and social media. You should consider budgeting your time or your staffs’ time by using only one or two technologies. Websites are usually the most static and provide content with ‘the best shelf life.’ Choose a single social media service that your customers – retail, business, niche industry or community. You can learn more from sources like http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/
Mid-Size Business: If you are a mid-size business, plan on spending 3 months planning your strategy. Work with a specialist to choose and set up your website and social media systems. A consultant can help you put in place policies, software and procedures. Set a budget for staff time or outsource the community manager for your social media. Work with a consultant like Christine Campos at Social Mediats http://www.socialmediats.com/
Large-Size Business: If you are a large-size business or have a large volume of online traffic, invest the time and money in an advertising agency. The advertising agency will help develop your brand and strategy from the logos and signage to your online presence to the campaigns you will run. Set aside regular time to meet with your agency to look at results. Modify your activities to improve your sales. Ad agencies are a big investment and vary by business and client. Here’s more information on how to find the best agency for your business http://www.inc.com/guides/201108/how-to-choose-an-advertising-agency.html