By Rob Dale, Breakthrough Coach Business owners often ask me to help them develop a social media strategy. I’ll ask them why they want to be on Facebook or Twitter and they usually respond by saying, “I don’t know. Everyone’s on Facebook.” They’re right, most Canadians are on Facebook. But, building a Facebook page or creating a Twitter account just because everyone else is doing it isn’t really the best idea. For business owners, social media should be seen as a tool that is part of an overall marketing strategy. In other words, before you spend too much time working on a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. take some time to figure out an effective marketing plan for your business. Who are your customers? Are they young? Old? Male? Female? Your approach to social media will differ depending on your key customer demographics. For instance, if you are a retail store catering primarily to teenagers, you should have a Snapchat account. If your best customers are women aged 30+, you would be wise to be on Pinterest. Yes, you should be on Facebook. According to their statistics, 14 Million Canadians log into Facebook every single day. There are almost 11,000 people who list Orleans, Ontario as where they live. If you include Rockland, Cumberland, Navan and some of the other areas around Orleans, that number jumps to 142,000 people! That’s a lot of people you can reach with a Facebook business page! Those numbers are enticing. In the rush to get their business on Facebook, many owners make to key mistakes. First, they begin pushing out information to people without any understanding of how their new page fits into their overall marketing plans. As I’ve already said, make sure you first create a marketing strategy, then determine how different social media platforms fit into that strategy. The second mistake many business owners make with their new page is they forget the most important rule about social media: It’s social. Far too many business pages become a running advertisement. Every post is about the latest sale or product and how people should “buy now!” Most of us know someone who loves to talk and rarely listens. Every time you see them, they go on and on about themselves. Often they repeat stories you’ve heard before, but they don’t give you the opportunity to tell them that they’re repeating themselves. You’re not engaged in a conversation with these people, you’re just standing there as they talk all about themselves. What eventually happens when you see someone like that? You avoid them. The same is true when it comes to social media. If all you do with your page is push out information about your business and never take the time to become involved in conversations, people will eventually avoid your page. Actually, it’s worse than that. Facebook’s algorithms track how people engage with business pages. If you don’t give people the opportunity to enter into conversations with you on your page, Facebook will eventually drop your ranking until very few people see you. So, be social. If you look at any post on Facebook, you will see that we are given three options with what to do. We can “like”, “share”, or “comment” on a post. Make sure that you design your posts in a way that encourages people to do one or more of those actions. And when they do respond, make sure you take time to thank them and continue the engagement. Social media platforms are not going away. Most businesses need to have a presence on some of the key platforms. Which platforms you use should be based on what platforms your customers use. One of the privileges of being part of the Shop St. Joseph BIA is free access to their Social Media Program. Through this program, I am able to meet with business owners and help them craft a great Facebook page and talk about how social media fits into their overall marketing strategy. If you haven’t utilized this free program yet, make sure you contact Jasmine and let her know that you would like to set up a meeting with me. About the Author: Rob Dale, BreakthoughCoach “I believe in people. In a world of mediocrity, where so many settle for average, I love seeing people breakthrough to their potential.” Every business owner starts out with a dream – a vision of where they what they want to accomplish through their business. Along the way, challenges and obstacles deflate, discourage, and derail many of them. Through a dynamic coaching relationship that provides a plan that is personal to both the owner and their business, I strive to help owners stay the course and realize their business goals.