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Is social media something really worth investing in for you?

Marketing trends come and go. Right now it's social media that every marketer nervously reviews in order to avoid being left behind. But I have a tip for you - instead of going after everything that is said to be so “hot” right now, I suggest a different way of approaching the issue:

What do your customers want you to spend your time on?

It's important for you to spend time and money on the right things, rather than to ”be at the forefront” of the latest trend. Just because it's there, it's no guarantee that it's useful or profitable for you. The risk is always that you will lose profits, time and dedication if you put too much effort into things that don't give anything concrete back besides simply showing everyone that you keep up with the trends.

Now let's take a closer look at if you are going to spend time on social media or not:

1. Ask your customers about social media
Call them and ask them how they use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube. Ask if they participate in discussion groups, especially if you work in B2B. If your products, for example, are bought by IT managers, you can be pretty sure they don't waste their time on tweets or hanging out on Facebook. They can, however, participate in online discussions on forums that are related to what they are working with. Where your customers are – that's where you too should be. If your customers aren't there, there's no reason for you to be there either.

2. Do you have time?
If you start to work with social media, you must assume that it takes a lot of work to do it the right way. Large companies may have employees just to answer questions on Facebook – you  probably can't. A Facebook-page for your business that doesn't work is useless and only hurts your business.

3. Do not sell, help
The idea of ​​social media is not to act as a fair. This is a problem for many companies. Don't let it become a problem for you as well.

4. It takes time
Assume that you have to hold on for a while before becoming a credible member of an online group. Your behavior over time is what will determine whether this leads to revenues or not. To constantly and continuously participate is what social media is all about.

5. You need resources
Assume that you need to create good content and that you may need to hire someone to do it or be prepared to do it yourself and spend time on creating interesting and informative content.

6. You must be able to measure what you do in the end
It's fun, with 2 300 people following your tweets, but if they never buy anything or contact you (or whatever your purpose with your online appearance is), then it will be just a weird ego boost that costs money.

7. Think. Social media is not for everyone
If you can find a way to participate that feels profitable, by all means go for it. I know examples of individual entrepreneurs selling mainly good advice (coaches and consultants) that seem to do well. Some industries talk more than others (fashion, makeup, etc.) and there are also opportunities. As I said in the beginning - it all depends on what your customers want.

8. Did this article sound grumpy and sour?
It's not my intention. As a self-proclaimed marketer for your business it's every bit of my duty to look at the negative aspects as well. It's so easy to be seduced by everything new that you don't have time to think through properly.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
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