I had a chat with a fellow Coffee Shop owner last week, about what we both do for marketing and he told me, ‘I can’t be bothered with Facebook and all that!’

When I explained that if he doesn’t, his guests will anyway his jaw dropped.  He didn’t realise that every Coffee Shop and Cafe now has a social media presence, whether the business owners like it or not!

When I showed him what was on line in these networks about his business, he needed a chill pill! Not because it was all bad but because he realised that he was missing a great way to build a relationship with his guests and to deal with any issues quickly and turn any negatives into positives.

Even if you are not on Facebook, then a page could have been generated automatically for you or put there by a guest. You don’t need to be on Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram or Trip Adviser  or half a dozen others to be complemented or complained about!

As they say you need to be ‘In it to Win it’ and you have no option but to get involved.

Time was a big concern for him, as there is only 24hrs in the day. However with a little bit of setting up, the use of a smart phone and delegating some tasks to his team, it can be managed effectively in very little time.

Tools like Hootsuite and the Facebook Pages app are free and great ways to keep up to date and to add content.

There is a trend for under 20’s to only use social media to communicate, so if they have a question about your business, chances are they will jump onto Facebook or Twitter and send you a message rather than find your email address or phone number to contact you. The number of Job enquiries I get that come via Facebook are an example of that.

Tripadviser is getting more and more important, helping people decide where to eat or drink, so your online reviews really do matter. So if you haven’t yet claimed your business and started managing the account then you are leaving yourself wide open to pain. If there is one social media channel that you cannot ignore it’s that one. The number of businesses that don’t reply to reviews is staggering, they are all missing a massive opportunity to enhance their online reputation.

There is nothing better to a Twitter user than to be retweeted, so if someone tweets about your business then retweet and reply to make a tweeters day and potentially build a longer term relationship with that customer. Instagram is similar but with pictures and your customers will be uploading lovely photos of your coffee, tea or scones as they will be on Pinerest.

Pinterest is perfect for our types of businesses, as there is so much beauty in our latte art and food that people love to pin pictures of them.

Foursquare is not as popular as it once was but it is great because if you manage your establishment you can offer users a deal, and because the system uses peoples locations it can actually bring new customers through your front door.

I read yesterday about a new way of complaining via a website that tracks all correspondence with a business and if no satisfactory conclusion for the customer is reached then that business will be exposed on all social media, although its sounds like it’s aimed at big corporations, imagine the damage of getting on the wrong side of that could have on your small business.

There is a cumulative effect to all these networks, with the internet having a very long memory,  in effect everything that has ever been said about your business is searchable online. This will have an impact on your google rankings and search-ability.

If you want advice on how to improve your online reputation and make social media work for your business then get in touch.