For youngsters starting out in business today, social media might seem invaluable to success. But while it offers huge opportunities for businesses, is there a danger that social media, or too much of it, can have the opposite effect?
The social media boom
Today a whopping two billion people are active on Facebook at least once a month. That’s almost a third of the world’s population. LinkedIn has over 500 million members. Twitter has over 320 million users daily. Add to this the number of people using YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Kickstarter and other Social Media platforms, and it’s easy to see why they’ve become the go-to for 21st century entrepreneurs.
And these platforms are making young people more entrepreneurial than ever.
Tata Consultancy Services studied Social Media and entrepreneurship amongst 5,000 young people in 15 European countries. It found that 33 per cent use social media every day to hire, communicate with clients, network, collaborate and develop skills. 60 per cent said that social media helps them find freelancers. And 62 per cent use social media to grow their business network.
Less is sometimes more
Experts agree that an entrepreneur’s online presence should span multiple social media platforms. After all, the more times your content is seen, the better chance you have of converting a person into a customer.
But too many sites can be overwhelming to manage. And going full pelt at all the channels without understanding their points of difference could be detrimental. For example, a post on Facebook won’t work in the same way as a Tweet or a LinkedIn update.
It’s not just knowing how to share content, but understanding that not all networks will be right for your business. Choose the ones that your target market engages with. So, if you’re selling organic bakes, Pinterest may be the best option. Whereas a youth football academy would probably find YouTube better.
When Greek tour guide Clio Muse started, they didn’t run their social media campaign properly. Yet this has actually become a positive for the company. As young entrepreneur Yiannis Nikolopoulos says:
"We don’t regularly post or organise campaigns. We post when we have something specific to say. A new tour, new features, a new strategic cooperation. So, we follow a totally unconventional way of promotion. Someone could say this is false, because the public does not see you. But on the other hand, we’ve achieved very good engagement. For example, our newsletter is 40%, which is very high. We noticed, when we do something, they learn it, they see it."
It’s also important to remember that social media can make or break a brand’s reputation. Posting as an individual and as a business are two separate things that will need very different approaches.
Most young entrepreneurs are very social by nature. But if you focus all your energies on updating social media you run the risk of losing sight of the business goals. Having a clear vision of how to use social media is key to managing time, boosting productivity, and ultimately profit.
Xavier Davis is a Digital Marketing Specialist at eClincher – an easy-to-use social media management tool. He offers a step-by-step guide on how to create an effective social media strategy.
These include doing an audit of where your business is socially, creating a mission statement of how to use social media to reflect your brand, identifying key goals and metrics of success, and using tools to create a content calendar.
Face-to-face communication matters
Social media can certainly help young entrepreneurs reach customers on a global scale. However, these platforms should work alongside more traditional forms of communication. Being able to have a phone conversation, a face-to-face meeting, network offline and write a formal letter are all essential business skills.
Expressing your brand and ideas clearly and effectively helps build physical as well as virtual connections with potential investors, partners, employees and customers.
So while there’s no doubt that social media plays a key role for the younger generation starting out in business. The trick is to find the best way to use these platforms to help your business succeed.