Running a business takes a specific skill set. Some small business owners would argue herding cats and juggling are major skills needed to keep everything running smoothly. I’d probably agree!
When it comes to marketing, there is definitely a limit to the time and effort one small business owner can invest - without neglecting another important piece of the business.
Although some feel that there is nothing to be gained in Social Media Marketing - I strongly disagree. You have an opportunity to be the first in your field in the market - and if you’re competition is already there, you’re already playing catchup. Your customers are using social media to find you - and they’re talking about you - so how can you afford to ignore this platform?
There are literally minutes in the day to pay attention to social media - so how can a small business keep their social media on task, effective, and growing? Let's talk about some do's and don'ts for small business social media marketing.
My number one rule for social media and small business is, you don’t have to be everywhere, but wherever you are, it needs to be done right.
I recommend using a company such as KnowEm.com to claim your brand name at multiple social media networks. This can secure and protect your brand, without the need for you to do them one-by-one and also eliminates your need to actively participate in ALL of those networks. You own the profiles, but don’t necessarily need to do anything with them. I always tell my clients, “Only actively participate in the networks that make sense for your company.”
Likely Facebook is going to be one of those places - every business should have a Facebook page. If you’re actively reaching out to people who might become customers, are a local business that is active in the community, or even have a strong network of word-of-mouth friends, Facebook can be a great network to get started with.
Facebook can also be a place that doesn't match your business well at all. Finding the right network, where your potential customer is active, is a very important piece.
Here are some scenarios to consider:
- If you sell highly specialized cogs for a small motor that powers a flap in an aircraft wing - Facebook might not be your thing - it might not be the right place for you. I’d recommend looking for an aircraft engineering forum or group that will appreciate your craftsmanship and likely is populated with your target market.
- If you are a yarn shop, specialty food store, toy store, baby photographer or even a recipe blog, Pinterest might be a great place for you to reach out to ladies who love to look for new patterns, yarn sources, party planning ideas, recipes and photos of finished products, etc.
- If you sell anything business-to-business and it is remotely technical or software related, you should be on both Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Google+ is definitely the home to tech right now. If you write a tech blog, sell Google Glass accessories, or even run an online marketing company, Google+ should be on your to-do list.
Once you determine where, you need to find the “who.” This might not be you - and that’s okay. If you’re anti-Facebook and don’t have an account even for yourself, your success at marketing your business on that network is going to be limited. Passion and understanding are really important when it comes to making social media work. So is frequency - and if you’re not into social media, you’re likely not going to be able to make yourself be something you’re not. You stick to your strong points, and let someone else run the show. This could be a trusted associate in your business, your business partner, a small company you hire to do this for you, even one of your kids if you trust them to be on top of things and post regularly.
After you’ve determined who, and where, you need to think about the “how.” Without a tool to help you manage social media interaction and activity - as well as something that can help you post and schedule postings - you or your staff are setting yourself up for trouble. Social media is a time suck. If you login to Facebook to throw up a quick post, don’t be surprised to still be there an hour later digging for information. Use a posting tool like Hootsuite, Raventools, ViralTag, or TweetDeck to help schedule and sends posts without getting bogged down in the platform itself. You can also set up rules or recipes that crosspost from Twitter to LinkedIn, or email you when a post is made using something like Ifttt.com (If This Then That.)
While these tools are great for pushing out posts - don't ignore the responses and questions you receive via social media. These interactions are arguably the most valuable piece of your social media marketing. Use these opportunities to communicate with your customers as another form of customer service - answer questions, direct people to pages on your website, provide exemplary care for your customers here - and the public will see it and your brand equity will rise.
So let's recap our social media strategy:
- Find the right network for your business and your audience;
- Find the right person to manage your social media; and
- Use the right tools to make your social media marketing effective and efficient. Throughout the month I’ll be sharing tips on determining what to post, and how to deal with negativity about your business through social networks.