Why your small business needs a social media plan

Word of Mouth has always been a double-edged sword for small business. I remember the saying  a local fish and chip shop had on their wall. “If you like our food, tell your friends. If you don’t like it, tell us!”

Once upon a time, the worst that could happen would be a letter to the editor of the local paper. With a 24 hour news cycle, the bad news would pass and your business could weather the storm.

In today’s social media world, it’s different.

Up to now, it’s been easy for small businesses to say social media was something they’d like to dabble in, but it wasn’t necessary to really put too much time into. It was a fun thing, or a sideline to their other communication tools.

Today businesses of all sizes need to be examining their online presence. Think of your customers. How many of them do you think have Facebook accounts? All it takes is one status update that says negative things about your business, and suddenly you’re suffering. How about this status update, posted by someone with 30 friends who lives in a rural area with a tiny population:

“Ugh. Feeling very sick after greasy fish and chips from Big Joe’s.”

Picture credit: Flickr Creative Commons http://bit.ly/dg3sD2 http://bit.ly/9NHDJC

How many of that person’s 30 friends do you think live in that same rural area? The same rural area that Big Joe’s counts on customers for? And how much weight do you think those 30 friends put on the opinion of the person who posted the status update?

A lot.

Word of Mouth (or WOM) carries the most powerful advertising impact of all the different forms of promotion you could use. And it spreads like wildfire.

“Sorry to hear about Big Joe’s big grease up.” “Get well soon, buddy.” “Won’t be going there again.”

Imagine now, that you are the proprietor of Big Joe’s, and you are one of the friends of this status poster. Not only would you know the negative post existed, but you’d also have an opportunity to find out more about why they were feeling ill, and possibly begin a conversation that made people think you were interested in doing good business, instead of thinking you’re a shop dealing in food poisoning.

Today, everyone is on social media. And everyone has influence. Time to claim yours.