Everywhere there are articles that tell businesses that they must have a social media presence—Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to name three. It seems overwhelming to many small business owners and nonprofit managers already putting in long hours. But research and experience shows that there are rewards. For most people, especially those under 35, this environment is their life. They seem to live on Facebook and tweet about everything! For others it is frightening, foreign territory and simply makes no sense. Look at your market and find out where they are. If you aren’t sure, just ask them.

A question I often get asked by clients is, “Do I have to?” The answer, as always is, “It depends.”

The first thing you have to know is, where do your customers hang out? The audience for each of these social media sites is different, so you might benefit from having an active presence on one or some of them, but not necessarily all. For a start, here is my take on Facebook.

Most Facebook users are using it to talk about their daily lives, where they are, what they do with their time and what causes they support. They like to recommend a restaurant or service and be kept up to date on specials and product offerings. That means you want to be with them as they make decisions on how they use their money. This platform is excellent for that. According to socialbakers.com, there are over 17 million Canadians on Facebook (just a hair over the total population) and 50% of them are in the 18-35 age group. Fifty-four percent are female. If these numbers reflect your target market, you MUST have a presence for your business or organization on Facebook.

A client of ours, Atomic Cupcakes in Waterdown, Ontario uses Facebook well. The bakery changes cupcake flavours daily so Facebook is a great way to announce it with posts on their Facebook page. When someone likes the page, they receive daily updates on what flavours are on offer – with mouth-watering photos. Who wouldn’t like that? Customers can also post pictures of themselves enjoying a cupcake. What a great avenue for endorsements and recommendations!

For charities and nonprofits, Facebook is a great way to keep your donors and supporters engaged. As a board member on a small nonprofit, I hear from donors regularly. Their feedback is consistent: keep me informed and show me how I’m making a difference if you want my donations to continue. Our nonprofit, Home of Grace Care Centre, does keep people updated. We report on board member visits, updates on the orphans and even post videos of the children singing. And it works. People like to receive these updates.

If you think it’s too much work to do Facebook for your business, it isn’t – especially when you consider the potential rewards. You don’t have to write paragraphs. A sentence or two will do. In fact, short and sweet is better. Don’t feel you have to be constantly posting. In fact, if you over-post, people tend to ignore you. Do not post more than once a day. So what do you post? Here are a few ideas: Specials, sales, new product or service, contests, boast about achievements, or recognize your employee of the month.

What about nonprofits? Do you have a critical need? Recognize a volunteer. Post a meaningful statistic about the population you serve. Boast about a milestone achieved. One charity I help, Micah House Refugee Reception Services, posts about needs of its clients and updates about the status of the house that are useful for volunteers and donors.

You can see that the possibilities are endless and if it’s only a sentence or two, it can be fast. But like all marketing, you need a plan. How often will you post? What will you say? As the saying goes, “Measure twice and cut once.” You could even create a schedule of posts so implementation is even faster.

At the same time, we don’t often see people on Facebook talking about industrial valves or payroll services. Some B2B companies have made a foray into Facebook, question the value. Can readers of this article share their B2B Facebook experiences?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Regardless, I invite you to join the conversation…