To quickly address the question proposed in the title of this post, the answer is “No”. It’s your business, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do right? Is it really worth your time to get involved with these new social networks and whatever the next one is that pops up on the trending stats?
Some Basic Business Questions
Before we just leave the answer at that though, let me ask you a few other questions:
- Do you have an office or store somewhere?
- Do you have an address that people could send you mail?
- Do you have a phone number that people can call if they have questions?
- Do you still use a fax machine?
- Do you advertise in newspapers, magazines or the Yellowpages?
For all of those questions above, how long did someone have to invest in convincing you that you needed those items for your business to be successful? Did you disagree then? Are they helping your business now?
More than likely the reason you have those things is because they are what’s needed because that’s how business gets done. You have an address because people expect to be able to send you mail or come visit your store. You have a phone number because just about every single one of us “consumers” expect to be able to pick up the phone and call a business. Fax machines were how documents were shared if you didn’t want to wait for the postal mail. And, advertising in print media was how you got your name out in front of people.
Get In Front of People
That last phrase is the one I want you to key in on…”in front of people”.
You see, you may not participate in social media and you may not believe any “real” people like yourself do either, but all of those networks and services are the “people” that could be your customers or already are.
- Twitter has over 500 million users
- Facebook has over 600 million users
- Google+ has over 150 million users
- LinkedIn has over 150 million users
If I told you that over 1.5 BILLION people were going to read next Sunday’s issue of your local paper, I’ll bet you’d probably think it might be worth your while to put an advertisement in that issue right?
How much would that ad cost you?
Social Media Isn’t Free
You may hear people tell you that getting on social media is free and you should be taking advantage of the networks. The truth is they’re right and wrong. Setting up an account on each of these networks is free. But there is investment in spending time on the accounts and interacting with your customers and the community on each network. Be aware of that. Just setting up an account doesn’t make things happen, you have to be involved. Let me also say it’s a two-way dialogue. Be prepared to listen and respond to people and not just scream your latest product news across the platform like a fly-by-night carnival barker.
But I’m Not the Social Type
Let me also say that if you’re not normally the social, free sharing, communicating type of person, don’t think just because you have a Twitter account you’re going to be. It’s still important that you should be doing this stuff, but it might be a smarter decision for you to find that employee that is a social butterfly and put them on the task of representing your company on these networks. With proper training, guidance and policies in effect of course!
Be…Where the People Are
So, do you have to be involved in these networks? Absolutely not. Are you losing out on potential new customers and building serious brand loyalty and customer service benefits with your existing customers? Absolutely!
Don’t get involved with these networks because it’s Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Get involved with these networks because that’s where the people are today. That’s where your customers and potential customers can find you more easily than before. And when Twitter has finished tweeting, Facebook becomes Facebust and LinkedIn becomes Unlinked, pay attention to what the next virtual water-cooler becomes and start handing out glasses!