Social Media: Should you or shouldn't you for your business?

After speaking at a recent Women’s Network Australia event in Brisbane, and watching everyone take lots of notes, I decided to put some of my talk down into a paper. There is a lot to cover in this sphere, so here are some points to help people utilise social media more effectively. 

March 2011

No doubt, you’ve heard the buzz around social media and its role in business. The supporters believe that social media is the next big thing for SMEs, and that everyone should get on board. Its skeptics claim that social media is all fluff and no substance, a waste of time for business owners with better things to do. Like many of us, you’re probably wondering who’s right, and whether you should be using social media to broaden your business horizons or concentrate on more conventional marketing methods.

Like most things, the answer lies with you and you only, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer you some information to help you make that decision. In this article, you’ll find some interesting facts about social media, as well as an action plan that will help you get the most from it, should you decide to jump on the wagon and join the millions of other companies that already have.

So, let’s start with the statistics.

In Australia there is, on average, 16 million active Internet users per month. Of these, 83% have used social networks. 72% of social networkers use Facebook. On average, these users spend 25.8 hours using the Internet every month. Compare this with non-Facebook users who spend an average of 9.91 hours online each month, and you can begin to see the impact social media has on the average population’s Internet use.

23% of social networkers have read a tweet in the past year, and 73% have read a wiki. Nearly two in every five Australians are interacting with companies via social networking every day, and 86% of Australians are seeking the opinions and information about products from their fellow Internet users.

What does this all mean?

Social networkers are spending more time on the Internet than other users, and are using it to seek information and get referrals about your products and services. They are looking for more about you from a range of different sources, not just your website. So, one may be inclined to ask, “If the people who are looking for your services and products aren’t finding you, who are they finding instead?” This is one of the most popular arguments for the use of social media in business for prospecting.

It is interesting to note that, despite the very high number of Australian’s participating in social media, the number of businesses in Australia that are actively participating is considerably lower. This creates an opportunity for businesses who do utilise social media - and do it well - to reach customers that their competitors aren’t. It’s not just about prospects finding you, it’s also about adding value to your current customers, and getting them to be advocates for you in the world of social media.

These day, just having an online presence isn’t enough. When people find you, what do they see? If they find a Twitter profile that hasn’t been tweeted from in six months, they’re likely to think that you’ve given up on the site and have simply forgotten to shut it down. They probably won’t follow you, because they don’t see the value in following you. On the other hand, if they find a Twitter or Facebook account that’s rich with recent, interesting and informative material, they’ll probably follow or friend you immediately. They can see the value in following you, because you’re obviously investing the time and effort into producing content you feel will be relevant to their needs. This is where knowing what you want to achieve, and how you’re going to achieve it, becomes very important.

It’s called a Social Media Marketing Plan and it will mean the different between a successful attempt and an unsuccessful one. We have all heard the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to... fail.” In business we are often so time-poor that we rush through the planning stage, despite the fact that you’ll waste more time correcting a bad plan, than planning and executing a good one. If there’s one thing you learn from me today, this is it.

So, you know the importance of planning your social media marketing strategy. Now, let’s look at the elements you need to include in your plan before you even think of opening an account.


Why are you taking on social media? What do you want to achieve? Do you want more people clicking through to your website? Do you want to add value for your current clients? Do you want to encourage sales? Do you want to increase your referrals? Is this a way to improve customer service by answering common questions? Do you need it for recruitment? Work out why you think you need a social media account. Perhaps you’ll find that you don’t need one, and that’s OK too.


Who are you targeting with your social media marketing? Are they prospects or existing clients?

Regardless of who you are targeting, you need to break down your target market into sub niche markets to be effective. Knowing who these sub niche markets are, and where they go for social media, will make a massive difference to your marketing results.

For example, a Windows and Blinds business may have identified a niche market as being stay-at-home mothers in the 25 to 35 age bracket living in Brisbane. You’d then set out to discover where your target market can be found in the highest concentration. This is where a little research and understanding of the different social media platforms comes in handy, as each platform has different functions and therefore attracts a different niche of users.

For instance, the 25 to 35 year old mums may be very active Facebook users, due to the highly social nature of Facebook, but they may also be a member of their building’s body corp, and may also have a Linked-In account which they use to network with other members of the body corp. A little research in this area will go a long way, so really get in the mindset of your niche market and work out where you can find them. Don’t forget, you’ll already have clients in these niche markets, so use them to get more information.


How often do you plan to update your social media accounts? If you’re time poor, you will need to think about updating only once a week, but ensure you still check your accounts and keywords on a daily basis so you don’t miss any important information or opportunity. We’ll discuss this in further details in Part 2 of our article.

From lots of study and practice, the formula we’ve found for the best results is to spend one hour every day on social media and work through the following list:

  • Review your account.
  • Reply to any comments.
  • Review your followers.
  • Have your say.
  • Build your network.

Stick to this routine by putting it in your default diary, and completing it at the same time everyday. It’s the best way to get results.


Research each social media site, and find out their strengths and weaknesses. Search for your target markets, interests, industries, and topics aligned to your business and see what results come up. Ask your clients what social media sites they use and their opinions of it.

As an example, we (Bloomtools) have just started getting our clients to follow us on on Twitter.
Our business philosophy is about having our clients get results online, and a large part of this is about client education. Because our clients are mostly business owners, and are time-poor, we use the quick and simple 140 character limit of Twitter to teach them new techniques. We then include links to more in depth material if they find the subject relevant. It also helps keep them abreast of industry news, tips and upcoming events like webinars.


How are you going to achieve what you want? One of the best ways to get ideas is to read stories about what others have done to get results. (See part 2 for some examples.) Then think about the past four questions and piece it all together. You may find you can have a few strategies and mediums to achieve what you want, or you may just have one.

For example, you may get all your current clients to follow you on Twitter, where you’ll tweet daily hints and tips. You may also invite them, and any prospect clients, to join you on Facebook, where they can get to know you better and read about your team, view albums of your community and promotional activities, read some good news stories about your clients, participate in discussions, see feeds from your other social activities (YouTube, blogs, etc), and receive specials offers before anyone else. Each of your key team members may have Linked in profiles to build their networks, and you may use YouTube to cost effectively run videos on your website.

There’s a multitude of solutions; you just need to find the one that’s right for you.

Write it down

When you know how you’re going to achieve your social media goals, write the plan down then review it on a scheduled basis. This area is still evolving, so you need to keep your plan up to date with the latest directions. If you are a Twitter user, follow They are one of the best to follow to keep yourself up to date with out having to read too much else.

I am a big believer in producing plans that are no longer than one page. This allows you to print it out and stick it on your wall as a constant reminder of your goals and action plan. Remember to add reminders to your calender and your default diary as this will help you organise your day around your social media commitments.

You may also like to draw a diagram of your online activities. This is particularly useful in identifying what sites feed into others. For example, you can update your Facebook status by feeding from Twitter, saving you heaps of time. Use your website’s RSS feed to update your Facebook whenever you add a blog to your webpage, and always take the time to direct people back to your website - after all, that’s where they’ll find the best information on you.

The Next Step
Now that we’ve given you an overview, watch out for Part 2, where we will give you lots of hints on how to communicate in the social media world to get results, including a few case studies for inspiration.