More and more business owners are growing their reputations and profits through social media. Some still haven’t got started though. Often, this is down to two things; uncertainty about how to proceed and/or the time to do it.
Yesterday, I came across a great piece by Amy Grishman, the CEO of Social Focus Marketing, which offers some sound advice for smaller businesses:
1. Recognise the benefits and define goals. All too often CEOs and campaign managers are only concerned with how social media marketing will translate into revenue and ignore the other benefits. Often overlooked is the opportunity to connect with current customers and clientele, raise brand awareness and improve brand reputation, acquire feedback, crowd source new ideas and products, and the list goes on.
2. Join the following five networks: Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, and YouTube. It will only take a couple of minutes per network to sign up, and each is designed with step-by-step instructions to make the process as seamless as possible for even the most novice user. Companies skeptical about joining YouTube should consider that, according to Nielsen, 90% of all web traffic will be video by 2014. Taking advantage of the vast pools of Internet users who frequent these networks is essential, and companies should secure their names on these platforms.
3. Measure results. Although there are many platforms through which to track social media data, Google Analytics will provide a panoramic view of an overall marketing strategy. This powerful tracking software is free and will diligently monitor website activity, visits from social media profiles as well as other websites, visitor demographics and much more. This data offers insight into customers’ activity, and measures the overall health of a marketing campaign, allowing a small business to rapidly respond to changes in consumer behavior, and to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.
4. Companies should add social media links to their websites, blogs, email signatures, and business cards. Adding social media links in all the aforementioned places will help grow fan base in an unobtrusive and organic way. Once profiles are active, companies should spread the word to give their profiles an initial fan boost; letting their personal and professional networks know.
5. Outsource, if needed. Finally, it is important to keep fans actively engaged. Allowing accounts to languish will be more detrimental than not having accounts at all. If a small business cannot find time to log into their profiles more than a couple times per week to post updates, communicate with fans, answer questions, etc., it may be time to consider outsourcing social media management to an Internet marketing firm. For a fixed fee every month, one can hire a social media management team adept at engaging audiences and promoting brands effectively (most often this is much more cost effective than hiring an additional staff member). This team will represent a small business and provide sales, marketing, client/customer service, and PR all in one.
Social media is an organic and essential part of business today. Long gone are the days when people would see their local shop owners daily and stop by for a chat, but as the world has grown bigger, it has also grown smaller again through the connectedness of social media. Customers will be stopping by for a chat virtually, possibly from thousands of miles away, and they are talking about a product or service to someone else possibly thousands of miles away in the other direction. Small businesses can’t afford to miss this opportunity!
I know that Amy’s right. I’ve seen first-hand how local businesses in Grantham and Newark have benefitted from social media marketing. It really does work.
For more information on social media marketing, visit Louise Hudson’s website here.