As someone who works in social media, I know both the stresses and the benefits that follow; however it is tough to know which will be more important to consider when starting a business. When an entrepreneur is first starting out, priorities become very important. You have to worry about your finances, hiring qualified candidates, which business phone service to choose, etc. With all the buzz around social media, it can be confusing to know whether or not this should jump up on a startup’s list of priorities. This led me to wonder: Will social media be crucial at the start of a company?

Consider a few of the instances where social media would be beneficial to a startup, and then consider a few of the reasons social media is better left at the bottom of your “to-do” list:

When Social Media Works

  • Social Media is a completely free service—If you have someone on your team who is comfortable using social media, they may be able to pull off managing different social media accounts while still dabbling in other startup priorities.
  • Connects with the Community—Social media is a great way to connect with your local community. In many cases, local marketing is crucial for a startup company, so social media would be a great resource.
  • Tracks Efforts—Knowing whether or not your efforts are working is extra important in the early stages of a business. Social media will help your company get a feel for the number of people who are interested in the company. Although there have been numerous studies suggesting that not every “fan” or every “follow” on social media accounts is serious, it should still help you get a ballpark figure.

When Social Media Fails

Social media being a negative aspect of a startup company almost always has to do with mismanagement. Many companies do not realize the time that goes into these platforms, so there are a few ways in which these efforts could go extremely wrong:

  • Trustworthy—If you do not have someone you trust in your company to manage your accounts right at the get-go, having a social media presence will be a bad idea. Ideally, you will want to manage social media accounts yourself, or at least spend a long time hiring the right candidate. You have no insurance when it comes to what is said on these networks, so do not just let just anyone post on your social media accounts. It’s easy to say something in the spur of the moment, so make sure you can monitor all postings.
  • Comfort Level—It takes a little while to get comfortable with social media etiquette. If you are not already familiar with these websites, you likely won’t have the time once you start your business. Do not rush into social media accounts unless you’re already comfortable with the way they work.
  • Just in Case—Do not sign up for social media accounts right away just in case you will have the time. If you are swamped with startup business issues, social media is not something you can put on the back burner. If people notice that your company has a Twitter account but never uses it, you may lose that audience for a long time to come

Trick or Treat?

In just about every business situation, social media is a treat. However, the trick comes in when a company does not know when to start using social media. Consider the tips above, and decide whether or not social media is something your startup can handle. If you are not comfortable with social networks and do not have the time to find someone who is; don’t sweat it. A lot of companies take their time establishing their business before jumping into the world of tweeting and friending. However, if you can pull it off and manage social media successfully, it will only help your startup.

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About the Author: Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to company credit cards. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including document software to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading B2B Directory,

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