Original Date Posted: May 4, 2012
By Blair Ball

I’m often asked, “Should I be using social media in my business?”

My answer is, “That depends. If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even more.”

One thing is clear: We are in the middle of an accelerating transformation from traditional marketing to social media marketing. When businesses underestimate the power of the connected consumer, the time window narrows and the end of business as usual is at hand.

Your customers today are more empowered through constantly changing technology where social media becomes only part of the disruption. Social media platforms, smartphones, tablets, review sites and geolocation are producing a new breed of consumer and businesses are largely missing them altogether.

The pace of change is accelerating; however, there are steps you can take today to get in the game.

1. Decide what social media marketing platform is right for you. According to current research the top five are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging and YouTube, followed closely by newcomer Google+.

2. Develop clear policies and guidelines for all company staff. More than 50 percent of businesses do not have a written policy, and that percentage is higher for small businesses than for large.

3. Train everyone involved to provide clear expectations. Inspect what you expect. Prepare and train for disasters. Dell was unprepared when someone videotaped their laptop on fire because of battery issues. Unfortunately for Dell, they had no social media presence to respond.

4. Develop a clear strategy to implement. Seventy-six percent of businesses do not have a strategy to implement when using social media marketing. Without a strategy you will waste precious time and become frustrated. Most have strategies for their respective businesses, and social media is no different.

5. Be committed, consistent and flexible. Be clear about your goals and objectives, but be flexible about the process to get there. Social media is a fast moving target. Who knows the players in the future? One thing is certain, change will be constant and come quickly. Be prepared.

Steve Jobs put it best: “This is a very noisy world. So, we have to be very clear what we want them to know about us.”

Blair Evan Ball is a social media coach, author and speaker. He is president of Prepare1 in the Mid-South Region. You can connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ as Blair Evan Ball. On Twitter @Prepare1.