There have been countless articles, blog posts, and discussion forums that ask the same question: should your business “be in” social media?

The answer, of course, invariably comes to a common conclusion – it depends entirely on your business, your goals, and your target market. Yes, social media has proven to be an invaluable branding and customer service tool for many consumer-facing businesses, but setting up a Facebook account for your new commercial laundry equipment distribution business probably doesn’t need to be at the top of your priority list.

How Much Work Will It Take?

One of the underlying assumptions about social media in these conversations is that it’s yet another channel that requires a lot of fresh, new content in order to enter – and who has time to keep developing all of this content (or the budget to hire someone else to do it)?

What we’ve noticed, however, is that a lot of businesses are already generating a healthy amount of fresh content, whether it’s in the form of research, white papers, articles, books, or blog posts (see also: 3 Reasons Your Website Should Have a Blog). For these businesses, the periodic development of these types of content is important to maintaining their visibility, reinforcing their brand, and establishing their expertise in the industry.

Rather than considering whether or not to enter social media as a separate marketing channel, these businesses can gain valuable perspective by approaching the question from a slightly different mindset: I have content; could social media be an efficient channel with which to get some of this content out to my market?

Start a Conversation

This isn’t to say that every piece of your content is a nugget of social media gold just waiting to be shared and re-shared by the masses (although if that is the case, can we please buy you lunch?); the idea is that viewing this channel through a different lens may open up some possibilities that had not been previously considered.

For example, perhaps one section of that eBook chapter might make a good foundation for an update on the blog or a guest post on another site, which could then spark a good conversation starter on LinkedIn and/or twitter. Ideally, social media thus serves as a tool to create more visibility for your content – and helps to establish your business’ brand and authority.

There is no shortage of advice out there on how to use social media effectively, but an important step is to ask the right questions from the beginning. Most importantly, what is to be gained by utilizing social media? How will that help you meet your business goals, and how does it align with your values and mission statement? If there appears to be good reason to employ social media as a channel for your content, how can you make that content relevant and shareable? What sites and platforms is your market active with, and what questions and conversations are they interested in having?

By answering these types of questions ahead of time, you’ll be better positioned to avoid channels that don’t fit and to make the most of the ones that do.

Simple Machines Marketing