Within the last two years, social media services such as Twitter and Facebook ceased to exist as solely a medium for the computer literate to broadcast themselves publicly. became increasingly popular as free marketing tools for businesses of all sizes. The challenges for businesses to embark onto this frontier were (and still are) the following:

-Maintenance time
-Risk tolerance
-Knowing one’s audience

The first two are rather self-explanatory. The first goes off the adage of “time is money.” Even if a business is leaving the social media responsibilities to low-cost labor, the time spent keeping the pages current can become significant on the aggregate. This time can be used on other projects. If the business decides that diligent maintenance of their social media outlet is a more productive use of this employee’s time than the next-best option, it is a good decision.

The second is slightly trickier. Many of GraVoc’s clients, including many who operate social media outlets, are in highly-competitive markets where reputations and corporate images must be finely manicured and maintained. If an unhappy customer were to post a complaint on the business’s social media outlet without it being monitored, edited, and administered, significant reputational risks arise. Many financial institutions with Facebook pages assign a person to check the page every 30-60 minutes during the business day.

The third point is perhaps the most intriguing. A recent Boston Business Journal article drove this point home: Individuals who use Twitter prefer businesses who use Twitter. On the flip side, individuals who do not use social media don’t care whether the business they use are using social media. Your business, before deciding whether it’s worth investing a portion of your employees’ time, should consider its typical customer. It is someone who is interacting with social media sites? If so, it might be a smart business decision.

GraVoc Associates, Inc, based in Peabody, MA, is a technology consulting firm serving Greater Boston, New England, and beyond since 1994. GraVoc’s business is divided into four practices of media production, information systems, professional services, and information security. GraVoc maintains a Facebook page and the GraVoc News Blog partially as a way to keep customers updated, but perhaps chiefly as an example of how a business can leverage social media to its advantage. GraVoc has declined to expand into Twitter partially due to the effort required to update frequently. To discover more about the company and the ways it can help your business, please visit gravoc.com.

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