By The Epson Business Council

According to the Epson Business Council — a panel of four of Europe’s leading business experts — one of the fundamental flaws of micro businesses’ strategy for utilising social media is the presumption that businesses should enter all social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, at once.

Our experts strongly believe that using some form of social media from a micro business’ inception will not only increase economic productivity but will also save time, effort and money. However, our experts are conscious of the limited resources and manpower micro businesses have. They therefore recommend only developing one social media strategy to start with, such as focussing on developing, managing and constantly updating a social network or a micro blog.

However, no matter what the business’ social media strategy is, the Epson Business Council advises micro business managers to always:

- Develop their own online hub, where they can store and manage all of the business’ intellectual property. Business managers should always ensure they keep their company’s information in house as one never knows what can happen with a third-party hub, advises Italian social media entrepreneur Marco Montemagno.

-Keep ownership of their business’ information and ensure that they adapt their website and keep it up-to-date, recommends Hasso Kaempfe, German consultant and former chairman of the board of Mast Jägermeister AG, as this will act as a central point of reference.

- Register their company’s brand name when setting up their business and make sure that they buy all the domain names from the start on all social media networks, says French multi-entrepreneur Alain Bosetti.

-Buy the “I hate (your brand)” domain when setting up a business because that way no-one else will be able to own it, says UK panel member Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Black’s premium confectionery range.

Influencers, consumers, journalists, customers and possible recruits are all active in the social media sphere and they would expect a brand to have a presence in that world. While the Epson Business Council recognises that it can be scary and risky to get out there and be exposed at all times, our panel members all agree that it is much worse if no-one talks about a company’s brand. Our experts therefore encourage micro businesses to endorse the risk and get active in the social media sphere. It is essential to rise above the uncertainties, have faith and enter into the dialogue, but micro business managers should always remember that “Less Can Mean More” and focus on one social media platform to start with.

By focusing on one social media platform our experts believe that micro business managers will be able to maximise efforts and focus on this particular media for different activities such as communicating news, managing dialogues, attracting new customers and recruiting talent. Recruiting through the business’ social media platform will not only save micro businesses millions in advertising and recruitment fees but it will also help the business increase brand recognition.

Serial entrepreneur, Alain Bosetti goes one step further and says that using a strong social media strategy could even help micro business managers at a financial level. It can, for example, help them secure a loan from the bank. If a business demonstrates that it has an active social media strategy with many fans and followers on its social media network, it can help raise the business’ credibility and as a result increase the bank’s trust in that company.

For those micro businesses who want to undertake a more creative approach in their social media activities during the early days of setting up a business, Marco Montemagno provides a couple of additional options, which can help micro businesses save money and time while increasing their productivity:

·Save time when creating brand identity — one of the first things a business will need to do is to create a brand identity. Crowdsourcing - outsourcing tasks to a large group of people - through the internet is a fantastic tool to help businesses create this. By using websites such as 99designs.com, managers can engage thousands of people from all around the world in a few minutes and ask them to come up with great creative ideas, such as creating a logo and a website.

·Save money and efforts on production — source the production of the company’s goods through the internet. Websites such as Alibaba.com, a website which offers a large database of suppliers, will help upcoming businesses to outsource production with lower efforts and less financial investment.

Social media is perceived by some micro businesses as a daunting and potentially challenging communications vehicle to leverage. However, a practical, strategic and simple approach based on the guidance and insight from the Epson Business Council can lead to increased business efficiencies, attract new talent and customers and will also allow micro business managers to enter into a dialogue with their target audience, which will ultimately help them shape their business accordingly.