As a small business owner, you have lots of people telling you that you MUST be on social media if you want to thrive…or even if you want to survive. It’s not just Social Media anymore, it’s Social Business.
I’m sure you’ve heard the statistics:
- 1 out of every 9 people on the planet is on Facebook (750 Million +)
- Facebook now tops Google for weekly online traffic
- People upload 3000 images to Flickr…every minute! (here’s my page)
- 1 in 6 marriages are people who met online (nearly twice the number who met in bars)
- Sadly 1 in 5 divorces is being blamed on Facebook
The reality is that Social Media has arrived…and you do need to be doing something with it for your business…but it’s not a silver bullet. You have to find an approach that makes sense, isn’t going to overwhelm the business, but still gets you out there.
Here are 4 fairly simple steps that can help you make sure your Social Business efforts aren’t wasted.
1. Recognize that Marketing has changed
The world has changed in the last 10 years, and it’s no surprise that marketing (and sales) have changed along with it. 10 years ago, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube didn’t even exist. Mobile? You could kind of get to the internet on a mobile phone, but it sucked and it wasn’t really worth the time or the effort.
Fast forward to today – if a consumer wants to buy something, wants to learn something, wants to get opinions, they will go online and search for it themselves, no matter where they are. They don’t want and they don’t trust traditional advertising. So where does that leave us from a marketing standpoint?
“Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t”. Seth Godin
If you want to market your business successfully, you need to be found online (because that’s where people are searching) and you need to attract potential buyers…not interrupt them.
2. You have to have a plan
Just being online isn’t enough. You’re going to invest time and money to support your online marketing efforts (although probably a lot less than you would have had to invest in traditional marketing). And since you’re investing, you need to be clear on a few things:
- What are you trying to achieve (drive traffic, generate leads, educate, raise awareness, support customers – all of these might drive to different strategies).
- Who’s your target (and where do they hang out)? What are they looking for (keywords)? What do they want?
- What’s your message? What benefit or outcome are you delivering? What problem are you solving. If you can’t be clear on this, you aren’t going to attract anyone.
- What’s your call to action? What do you want them to do next? Call you? Download a report? Visit your location? Buy something? Be clear and keep it simple.
On top of all of that, you need to have a quality website. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, in fact simple is probably better. But it does need to be clean and professional.
3. Develop a Social Media Presence
Once you have an idea of what you’re trying to achieve and you have a sense of who your target is, you need to pick a starting point for where to go with your social media presence.
If you’re selling something to consumers and it’s visual or has an emotional component, then Facebook is probably the best place to start.
If you’re selling to professionals or other businesses, then LinkedIn is probably your best bet.
Twitter is great is for engaging fans and supporting customers and there are lots of other choices out there that are smaller more niche plays (i.e. Lawlink for Lawyers or Bakespace for people who love to cook).
Whatever makes sense for you, pick one site to start with, set up an account and start listening. Listen for people who are talking about your industry, your product, your competitors…get a feel for what’s being talked about. then start using that information to engage with the influencers.
Use Google Alerts and tools like Tweetdeck to setup searches to help you stay on top of things without spending hours every day doing it.
4. Develop Great Content!
Finally – the real secret to Social Business success is to develop great content (and host it on your site). Content that will especially appeal to the potential customers you’re attracting. That content could be a Blog, it could be a series of reports or great emails, it could be videos (check out Will It Blend) or even podcasts or webinars.
The point is that you need to create great information that will inform, educate maybe even entertain the people you are trying to attract. They get to know you, they get to see that you know what you’re doing and talking about and they have enough information to decide if they want to take the next step with you.
On top of all of that, Google loves great content because it drives backlinks to your site and builds out a lot of context for keyword searches…which just means that your Search Engine Optimization will be a lot stronger than if you didn’t have content…always a good thing.
Bottom line – your prospective clients are looking for you online, so if you want a shot at them, you have to be found. And when they find you, they want to get to know you and understand you. They want to learn from you, they want to be sure you can solve their problem. It’s not easy, but if you can do all of that, you will be in great shape in this new world of marketing and social business!
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach