We have all heard or read about the detrimental effects of social media in the workplace. Perhaps we have even been involved in a social media related dispute or fracas ourselves at some point. The press has been full of hard-luck stories concerning dismissed employees or disgruntled business owners ever since the whole thing took off, but what about the positive aspects of social media? And what benefits does it hold for the smaller business?

So Why Should I Do This Again?

Firstly because it is easy to set up an account and takes next to no time at all; what do you have to lose? Secondly it will make you look contemporary, progressive and forward thinking in the eyes of your audience – including rival companies. Thirdly it will give your customers the chance to post glowing references and testimonials about you and your services in an organic way that doesn’t look staged. Finally, it is free advertising and free marketing. You can easily update your social media page with new products and services, new strategies and new offers and promotions, and you can massively increase brand awareness. You could also consider setting your employees up with social media accounts and giving them 20 minutes every morning to post the most exciting piece of news related to your business. Just make sure you offer a clearly defined set of rules and boundaries; a bad or negative post could be detrimental to your business – so make sure they are aware of what is at stake.

Social media for businesses is nothing new. It all began with Sixdegrees.com – reputed to be the first official social media website (set up in 1997). Based on the six degrees of separation concept it was designed for businesses to promote and market their business, and to widen their contacts.

So Which Ones Should I Use?

In theory you could use any or all of them, but it really depends on what your business is – so put some research into what is most suitable to you. Facebook might be seen by some as more ‘casual’ – the delinquent younger brother if you will to the more upstanding and respectable Twitter. There is perhaps some truth in this; there is arguably something more ‘corporate’ about Twitter, and even Alan Sugar and Barack Obama are confirmed fanatics! It is certainly an effective way to establish valuable links with other smaller companies and business owners. Furthermore despite the occasional spirited debate the word limit and general protocol that exists on Twitter makes for a more congenial and ephemeral experience. People quickly move on with Twitter; it is a social media site which reflects our modern, fast-paced lives. But Facebook should not be ruled out for its ability to showcase a wide range of media. It is also incredibly accessible and with 400million + users there is certainly an audience to be had.

Alternatively if you rely on images to promote your business then Pinterest could be an excellent option. It is well designed, simple to use and could be used to launch an excellent image-led campaign. Catering businesses, fashion-related businesses, photography…these are the kinds of businesses that would benefit from Pinterest. Alternatively LinkedIn is specifically (though not exclusively) designed for the more corporate end of business and offers the world’s largest and most comprehensive professional network.

Some companies throw a blanket over the whole thing by drawing up a strict ‘no social-media’ manifesto. Others just haven’t cottoned on to the potential; this is advertising…marketing…and much more – and it is absolutely free! Larger companies who avoid it are probably not going to lose sleep any time soon over a missed opportunity, but smaller companies should start to get wise to the opportunity that is available to them.

Business Perfection is dedicated to helping businesses achieve their individual goals and understands the value of social media for companies of all sizes and natures.

Social Media And The Small Business