We hear the phrase “social media” all the time. College students started Facebook in 2004 and today, roughly 11 years later, the platform has more than a billion users and its market capitalization is around $190 billion. Other companies such as Pinterest and Twitter have also shown incredible growth, not just in revenue generated but also in creating a new awareness and understanding about how to reach and engage with people.
Since most major businesses have some sort of social media presence, it makes perfect sense for small business owners to ask some basic questions. Is social media worth the time? If yes, which social media platform(s) is best and how do I get involved in a fashion that addresses my needs?
Let’s look at some of the social media platforms, starting with Facebook. There are 30 million small businesses with active pages on Facebook, according to Dan Levy, the company’s director of small business.
Facebook is a great way to let customers—and potential customers—know about sales and events such as shot clinics and adoption days, as well as sharing news about your store. It can also drive business to a brick-and-mortar location, although that can be devilishly hard to quantify.
Retailers who sell product online (either exclusively or in combination with a physical store) can use sponsored advertising to target those likely to be interested and drive traffic to their websites. Thanks to Facebook’s analytics, with sponsored ads you can determine how many people click through from their Facebook page to your site, as well as knowing how many actually purchase something.
There are challenges, however. Being social requires time and consistency as well as the ability to engage numerous people in a fashion that does not alienate anyone. This can be difficult for some. A business might also lose followers if posts are inconsistent and if it ignores or answers comments/questions haphazardly.
When trying to ascertain whether Facebook is or is not a good fit for their business, many owners end up playing a numbers game. By this I mean they determine its value based on the number of likes their Facebook page has acquired. I have known quite a few business owners who proudly boast about the number of people who like them on Facebook, but who are far less clear whether all these folks are generating business for them.
You can use Facebook in a less labor-intensive fashion by placing timely and relevant posts about events and sales. You can also avoid responding to most posts although you will likely need to respond to some of your followers on an as-needed basis. By posting enticing sales, interesting and exciting events, worthwhile information with fun memes and pictures, your Facebook followers will share your content with their friends, resulting in more followers—and hopefully—loyal customers for your store.
For those companies without the time and resources to have someone who can focus on social media on a regular basis this might be a reasonable compromise.
Remember, people tend to be visual, and Facebook is a visual medium. Groomers can take advantage of this by posting before and after photos of their work. Pet stores can post quick image-based health and safety tips and link to content on their website that offers more details.
People like relevant information, especially when it is free and helps with problems they are having with their pets. Topics you could post about and that people could like and share include: How to use a crate in housetraining, how to properly use chewing deterrent sprays, how to properly fit a collar on a dog, which cat scratching posts are best and why those posts are best.
To help boost your Facebook followers, you can encourage folks to like your page via links on your website, email and online and print advertisements..
Ultimately, you should base your decision on whether to engage actively in social media on the amount of time you can dedicate to it, the level of customer-interaction you desire and your business’ overall goals.