Before tweeting, connecting and friending, answer me this: where are your customers?

Sometimes this is the request from a business owner: Could you show me how to use Twitter?

1102203_23617898Other times, this is the question: Should I use Facebook?

Or this: I’m thinking of using Linkedin. Will it help my business?

My answers: Yes. Yes. Yes.

And: No.

I work like crazy to avoid saying no to a customer but no is the quickest and best answer for businesses considering whether they should use social media to connect with customers. Why? There are other questions and information about your business and your customers to consider first to help you decide whether to spend time on social media and then which tools to use and how to use them.

Here are questions I ask my customers before we ever get close to answering those first questions they ask. I share them to help prompt discussion about what you want to accomplish at your business, too:

Social Media Work Sheet

1. Who are my current customers? Where are they located? What social media do they use?

2. What do I do now to attract them? Communicate with them? Build relationships with them?

3. Who are potential new customers? Where are they located? What social media do they use?

4. How do I attract them? Communicate with them? Build relationships with them?

5. What are my customer target/s or sales goals for next month, quarter?

6. I will reach customer target/s using these methods?

7. What result do I expect from social networking?

8. Who in my business owns social networking responsibility?

9. What do they know how to do with social networking tools?

10. What new skills, tools are needed?

11. How much time do I spend now on networking, business development? What methods are successful?

12. How much additional time am I willing to spend on networking, business development? Or, how much time am I willing to shift from current efforts to social networking approaches?

13. What events, special products or services are scheduled or will be introduced during the next month, quarter?

14. How should we sync social networking with other advertising/promotion/networking to support these upcoming events?

15. What company marketing and legal/compliance guidelines, requirements apply to social media usage?

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