Home > Social Media Strategy > Small Businesses Get Successful On Social

Small Businesses Get Successful On Social

Today nearly 1-in-5 small business owners are using social media, according to a study conducted by Maryland’s Smith School of Business and the primary motivation is to “identify and attract” new customers.

Not long ago, social media seemed so new and different that it was treated as a kind of marketing that should be tried only by the experts or as a complete contrast to this, “only when you have time”. While both views still exist to some degree today, its adoption is growing fast and social media is no longer thought of as “marketing’s new thing”.  It is mainstream and simply a way of doing business today.

Social Media is the king in Salon Industry

Salon Industry - where social media is king

While, small businesses do understand power of social, the question remains “where to start from”. Probably, a good start is to find out who is doing it well. There are several success stories from small businesses that are ahead of the curve and have integrated social at the core of their marketing, customer acquisition and customer engagement process. “Social media is so ubiquitous in our salon that, it’s rare for even a walk-in customer to come in and not have read our blog or seen our tweets”, says Matt Buchan one of the co-owners of Emerson Salon which has reportedly seen significant growth from social channels.  Industries such as salon, where word-of-mouth reputation and referrals are the best marketing tactics, social media is like a king.  Learning from the use cases of businesses that are early adopters, and preparing a simple social media strategic plan mapped to your business, one that is effortless to implement and “easy-to-measure” is the best route to “highway social”.

At ObjectiveMarketer, we often get the opportunity to talk with several small business owners. And, they often suggest “we are not power users” and “we are too busy running our business” to have time for social sharing and engagement. The answer is as simple as the resources that are needed to get a social make-over for your business; some shared in this post.

Rethink destination websites: Be where your customers are.

Candy Shops can deliver virtual chocolates to birthday mentions on twitter.

Candy Shops can deliver virtual chocolates to birthday mentions on twitter.

Destination websites are places where your customers are likely to find or “discover” you – and you don’t need to own them all. Spend time in building a Twitter profile, Fan Page, YouTube channel for your business. If your prospects reach your twitter page, they should find enough information there to be interested and to want to learn more. Suggest where they should go next if they are interested. Make the connection easy, and do not disappoint them when do arrive on your site to learn more.

Quality content is still the king.

Fower shops can offer special discounts if ordered through social channels

Fower shops can offer special discounts if ordered through social channels

Make content strategy a part of your marketing plan. Start a blog, define the purpose of the blog and share something of value to the readers of the blog. Never try to sell on your blog. Next important consideration is to identify how the content will be updated. A blog is one of the most perishable online items, if it is not fed with relevant and timely content. A good mix of content with a plan for “how often to share”, “what content to share for which online channel”, “when to share” etc. A sense of urgency and accountability is crucial – if a press release was to go out on national business weekly, then you would go extra miles to make sure the content is ready for the release; similar deadlines should drive your social media content strategy also.

“If you are good, people are watching you. And, if people are watching you, you have to be good”.

Use technology wisely and precisely

Carpenters: Share images of good stuff you have carved off that wood

Carpenters: Share images of good stuff you have carved off that wood

Let technology be your partner and handle some of the repetitive tasks for you, at the minimum. Some useful tools to make use of are RSS feed reader and to automate sharing the feeds, Blog Management Systems (WordPress, Posterous etc), widgets like Facebook connect for authentication and Share to Social on your websites. Use technology to PLEASEPlan, Listen, Engage, Act, Supervise and Evaluate. When technology is leveraged to facilitate and enhance social media interaction a great deal of value is created.

Tweak and Optimize

Every business has a benefit to end users. Spell that out.

Every business has a benefit to end users. Spell that out.

There is no better benchmark for pegging your success or failure, than your own past experience dealing with social media. Take one thing at a time, tweak and straighten it and see if it can be optimized to the point that you no longer need to tweak it, and it takes care of itself.

Be involved – Share, and learn

Remember, the step zero “learn from success stories”? Now that you have a story to share, share it. Be a part of local tweetup or social network where you can exchange and present your experiences and learn from the others going through the same process. There cannot be a better time for a marketer than this. You can reach out to customer pretty much on a 1-1 basis, you are allowed to experiment, and if you fail, you will still be applauded because you are trying something new, and the environment is so resilient to failures that you can jump back to a fresh new start without much ado.

Harry McKracken, founder and author at Technologizer, which is an online technology review site, recently was asked this question in a panel on “Social Media for business” – “What about International Audience on Social Channels?” To which, he answered “Today, you can be a small business, with an international presence” – such is the power and nature of social networks. Are you 1 of those 5 businesses that has taken the step zero already? Who knows, your barber shop under the tree shade can soon become world famous! Well…

In Social Media, not just you but, your fans can promote your business as well.

In Social Media, not just you but, your fans can promote your business as well.

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Categories: Social Media Strategy
  1. Taa
    June 10, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Truly a great post w/ useful advice. I love the virtual chocolates example. I would have thought the number would be higher than 1 in 5 small business owners using social media. At our web design firm, nearly every new project has a social media component.

    thanks!
    Taa – http://twitter.com/720Media

  1. June 9, 2010 at 8:41 pm

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