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5 Things That Small Businesses Want To Hear About Social Media (#5)

by James Ball on January 11, 2010

I’ve enjoyed looking into the 5 questions this past week, but alas, the series comes to an end today with this post. Today, the last of these:

“Can I get by without social media?”

“Is it really as easy as I’ve been led to believe?”

“Can it save my business?”

“Is it too late for my business to get involved?”

“Can’t someone else just do this for me?”

I hope that I’ve shed some insight to the questions I’ve addressed. Today I’m looking at the last question, and although it’s not the one I hear the most out of the 5, it is the one that I deal with the most.

“Can’t someone else just do this for me?”

Why is this question so popular? It’s not that people are lazy, or don’t have a desire to take a more pro-active role in the marketing of their business. No, I believe that it’s largely due to a few main concerns that small businesses are right to express.

Some that are familiar to me would be – “Wouldn’t I be better off hiring a professional to handle this for my company? I don’t have any earthly idea about any of this stuff. I mean, I hear about it, and I believe that we need to be involved; I just don’t know where to begin.” This is pretty close to – “I’ve actually looked into it and we’ve experimented some, it just seems like the learning curve is a considerable one. Can’t we just pay someone to get us set up and then take over from there?”

I also hear, and rightly so – “I run my own business, and we are a small company, we simply don’t have the human resources or time to invest in this, though I need and want to.” Does any of this resonate with you? Social media requires real time and real effort. It’s necessary to designate real resources and assign a real importance to the topic. It’s evident that this is not going away, and that all of us will be affected by social media, whether we decide to participate or not, it’s changing the way business and marketing are being done.

I think that companies and individuals would be best suited by being deeply involved from the beginning.  There is absolutely no one outside of yourself that share in your passion, understanding, and care for your business. Certainly no one cares for your current and future clients the way you do.  Who can engage and inform these any better? Who knows your history any better?  For this reason and if at all possible, getting involved yourself is best. This is one of those things that you’ll find is better handled by you and not another.

Depending upon the size and structure of your company, it may or may not be possible to identify internal personnel and resources that can be turned towards implementing a social media strategy. Consider those that would do well by wearing your company’s social media seal of approval.

All by yourself and/or in-house may not be an option at all. Perhaps you’ve been approached by a familiar PR Company or marketing resource that you’ve dealt with in the past. These can certainly be a good fit provided they are equipped, experienced, and can deliver the results that you desire.

As I finish this series on this particular question, a blessing and incredible resource has fallen from the interwebs this very day. It comes as a “Social Media Request for Proposal Template” from Social Media Group. 

“Social Media Group (socialmediagroup.com) has developed this Social Media Request for Proposal (SMRFP) template to assist organizations in selecting a provider of social media professional services. This document is freely available for modifying or adapting for any purpose. The questions listed below should apply to a wide variety of organizations including business-to-consumer, business-to-business, government and non-profit.” – Social Media Group

Some of the questions and qualifications that the template asks:

  • Please outline your social media strategy process.
  •  Which stakeholder groups do you typically include in a strategy engagement?
  • Describe the final deliverable of a strategy engagement
  • What is your approach to risk management in social media?
  • How do you incorporate existing applications?
  • What is your brand/reputation monitoring process (i.e. proprietary tools used, methodology, etc)?
  • What is your opinion on automated sentiment analysis?
  • What technology do you use to assist in online monitoring?
  • How long (on average) between a potential issue being posted online and being flagged to the client?
  • What volume of mentions has your organization handled in the past (e.g. 2,500 mentions per week)?
  • What methodology do you use for measuring the success of your social media programs for clients? Please provide specific examples based on past work
  • Have you developed any proprietary metrics? How have you applied these for clients?
  • How have you defined R.O.I. from a social media perspective in the past?
  • How do you take data points generated from various social media channels and measurement tools and combine to give an objective/comprehensive view?
  • What is your approach to server analytics and community analytics for program measurement?

This document (.pdf file) can be downloaded HERE, and modified to fit your needs. If you are searching for someone to partner with your company and help you to engage in social media practices, this timely document can help guide you. It may save you some time and money as well.

If you are already involved with social media as yourself, of if you’ve hired someone to help and you have a story, please tell me about it in the comments. I value your input.

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