insightfulmarketing

Simple, effective and insightful small business marketing

Social Media for Small Business: 3 Steps to get Started March 15, 2013

Filed under: Marketing,Small Business,Social Media — insightfulmarketing @ 10:02 pm
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Small business owners have a lot to think about on a daily basis; personnel, customer service, finances, inventory, scheduling and more.  Social media isn’t always the first thing on your to do list, and it can be daunting, but it’s integral to your marketing success…and setting yourself up for success will make all the difference.

Here are 3 ways to help get you started

1.)  Create a Strategy

It’s fairly easy to go out and set up a Facebook page or create a Twitter account.  It’s harder to sit down and decide on your strategy for managing these accounts.  However, it is an important first step. Deciding on what you want to accomplish, how this relates to your brand and business goals and who within your organization is going to do it, are important questions to ask yourself.

Set your objectives.  Be clear on what you want to accomplish.  Is it more traffic to your site or more traffic in your doors?  Is it building an email database for outbound marketing?  Is it creating an online community to support your brand?  This will drive how and what you’re communicating through your social media efforts.

2.)  Choose your Networks

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

As the world’s largest social media site, Facebook is somewhat ubiquitous so you can certainly find a network of consumers for most industries there, while Google+ is good in a B2B or software/technical market.  On the visual side, Pinterest is good for the home-making, fashion, food, fitness and home goods markets and YouTube, the 2nd most used search engine, is a good video medium for brands. LinkedIn with its 200 million+ members, is a powerful online professional network. These are generalizations, so there are always exceptions.

Explore each of the big five social networks and see if your competition, or related product/service providers are doing well there. If so, you might also be able to make a place for yourself.  It’s also a good idea to ask your customers where they are spending their time online, so you can focus your efforts in the right direction.  They’re your target, so don’t be afraid to inquire.

Don’t forget the niche-specific online networks. If you’re in travel, you could be very active on Tripadvisor Forums. If you’re a home improvement specialist in a large city or town, AngiesList is an important website for you. Paying attention to niche social networks might be a way for your business to be somewhere your competition is not.

3.)  Generate Content and Engage – 

I heard it best as “teach with story and sell with subtleness”.  Use what you know about your business and industry to sell yourself and what you do.  Think from the customer’s point of view to know how to frame it.  You’re the expert – what would customers want to know about your product or how to use it?  What success stories could you tell?  If you’re a plant nursery, you could create content on subjects ranging from soil to seasonal plants…the possibilities are endless.

Set a 90-day plan.  It’s tempting to try to do it all, but in order to remain consistent  with your content you must start small with manageable expectations. You can always add more later.  If you’ve decided to use Pinterest and YouTube, a reasonable 90-day plan could include building your social media community on these channels (remember to use your traditional or offline marketing avenues to help build your online efforts) and engaging that audience with consistent, compelling content.

There are so many ways to participate in social media, so figure out what works for you and go for it!  Be patient though.  Initially, your ROI will be in online word-of-mouth.  This eventually should translate into more tangible metrics.   And finally, reevaluate periodically to determine what’s working and what you could be doing better…it’s critical to your overall success with your social media efforts.

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Local Business + Social Media January 27, 2012

Your small business can learn a ton from large corporations and their social media tactics. It’s not rocket science and you don’t need a dedicated team to do it.  Local businesses have a unique opportunity that doesn’t often present itself in the face of big corporations. If your local company isn’t trying these local social media opportunities, it’s time to get started! Here are 7 productive ways to begin that cost you nothing…but your time!

 

Creative Ways Local Businesses Can Use Social Media

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

1.) Complete all of your profile/page information. I know, it’s not very creative, but the easiest to accomplish. As search gets more social, it’s more and more likely your social profile could show up in search results. Make sure you’ve filled it out with adequate information about who you are, what you do, where people can find you, and how to get in touch with you. Of all the social media networks to consider when leveraging an organic search presence, Google+ is currently at the top of the pile. With its consistent incorporation of Google+ profile and page information into search results, brand presence on Google+ is quickly becoming a social media must. Are you there?

2.) Monitor social media mentions. Of your brand…of related products and services…and of your competitors. When people are talking about these things, you should be the first to respond with a coupon, information about your product or service, or just a helpful answer to their question. People use social media for real-time information, and if you’re the one who provides the answer, you elevate yourself as a local expert and a trusted source. This tactic will help you generate new leads, close more sales, or just keep prospects, customers, and your community happy.

3.) Do a little investigating. Check out your fans’ and followers’ profile information to see what they like, and edit adjust marketing activities and communications accordingly. This helps you create buyer personas, refine the style, tone, and content of your messaging, and ensure you’re talking about the things your audience likes to prompt more social engagement.

4.) Become a resource for local events in your industry. Keeping your ear to the ground on events — whether live or web-based — that your audience would like to attend makes you an indispensable resource. Aggregate everything that’s happening in your industry, and maintain groups on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, or Circles on Google+ that keep interested parties up to date on can’t-miss activities. And be sure to show up to these events, too; your future customers will be there! Why not create another impression?

Image representing Yelp as depicted in CrunchBase

5.) Maintain your presence on local review sites. Sites like Yelp! often appear among the top results in search engines. How does your reputation look? Consumers hold peer reviews in high esteem (I do), and it’s crucial that their first impression of you is a positive one. Plus, these sites help answer common questions for customers like addresses, hours of operation, and contact information that people are frequently checking on their mobile devices when on the go. You should be actively involved in maintaining your reputation on these sites by keeping your business information up to date, soliciting positive reviews from satisfied customers, and working to resolve issues with those who have posted negative reviews of your business.

6.) Ask your employees to use their social networks for your business. National companies may ask their employees to do this, but they won’t reap as much benefit unless their employees connect with people that are overwhelmingly interested in their industry. What do people tend to have in common with lots of their connections? Location! If their networks know their friend or family member works for a local company, you can be sure they’ll contact them the next time they need a local dentist, doctor, health food store, pet sitter, t-shirt maker, custom closet designer…well, you get the point.

7.) Connect with other local businesses and consumers. Get active in online conversations. Connect with people that live in your city and businesses that are doing cool things in your area (especially if they could act as a referrer of business!). It’s important to stay locally connected and network with people even if they’re not directly related to your industry; you never know when someone has a secret passion for something you offer or a need arises further down the line for your products and services.

Your local business can use social media to remain a fixture in the local online community and at your storefront.