How to Use Social Media for Small Business Marketing
Part Eight of The Small Business Website Guide for Business Owners
You have come a long way! In our series you learned: why websites are important, how to plan for a website, how much websites cost, whether you should build your own website and what a successful website is made of. You also learned how to make your website search engine friendly, how to write powerful content for the web and how you can use a blog for marketing. Today you’re going to learn how to use social media for small business marketing.
Here’s a brief look at what we’re looking at today and how to use social media for your small business marketing plan:
- Back to basics: What is social media?
- Why the big players of social media don’t matter
- Social media marketing is relationship marketing
- How to write content for social media
- Keeping social media professional
- Picking your poison
BUZZ PHRASE ALERT: “Social Media” is a buzz phrase used by almost every online marketer known to man.
If you don’t know what you need, why you need it or how it’s going to help you… stay far, far away.
To learn what you need, why you need it and how it’s going to help you, read on!
Back to basics: What the hell is social media?
Everyone is saying it!
Everyone is doing it!
But what is it, really?
As far as you are concerned, social media is connecting with your audience in realtime using any number of the current popular tools.
The technical definition according to Wikipedia is “the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”
Why the big players in social media don’t matter!
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ …with so many options, it’s easy to pick the biggest one and automatically assume that it is the right tool for the job.
Social media extends beyond the biggest players. Maybe your audience lives on a certain forum. Maybe your audience is on a startup social network.
Just because Facebook is the biggest doesn’t mean it’s the most effective for you.
Just because Twitter is the simplest doesn’t mean it’s the best for you.
Just because Google+ is new and shiny doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
What is important is for you to define your needs, research how each tool available will fill your needs, and pick the right one. Sometimes a big player is the answer, but knowing that is easy. The hard part is knowing when it’s not the answer.
It doesn’t matter which social media tool you pick.
I know this sounds contradictory to what we just said, but both statements are true. The social media tool you choose doesn’t matter because it’s not about the tool, it’s about the way you’re using it. (You’ve heard that one before, right?)
This term social media marketing is a fallacy. Simply put, social media marketing is relationship marketing in high tech clothing.
Relationship marketing is focusing on connection. Once again, according to Wikipedia, the definition is marketing with an emphasis on “customer retention and satisfaction.”
Interesting – so we have a marketing style that stresses the importance of establishing a connection with your customers, and we have tools that allow personal connection with any given audience online. It sounds like a match made in heaven.
So when you’re talking about a social media marketing strategy, stop and ask yourself if you’re just using the lingo because it makes you feel hip and in-the-know or if you’re talking about a strategy that connects your brand to your customers using the technology available to you.
social media relationship marketing.
Write whatever it was you were thinking of saying.
Now answer the question about your content: Will this content satisfy my customer’s needs?
Social media marketing is about satisfying your customers and addressing their needs in a personal way. If you are simply satisfying your own needs, you won’t get anywhere and you’ll ask yourself why your social media strategy isn’t working.
An example of satisfying your customer’s needs: Fixing a problem, answering a question, or providing valuable information that applies to their situation.
An example of satisfying your own needs: Sending links to your products or services with no context or relevance.
Last but not least, please keep it professional and readable. This is not professional: “If u r c00l, plz rt thz kthxbai.” If you can’t fit it, maybe you should reevaluate the way you’re phrasing your post.
Keeping your social media marketing from leaking into your personal life.
There’s a quicksand trap with social media – it’s so easy to participate from anywhere (laptop, mobile phone, scuba diving with sharks) that it can become hard to draw the line of where you need to stop.
While the social media you participate in for your personal life is up to you, try and keep a relative schedule for your professional Tweets, Facebook posts, and so on.
I haven’t personally had an issue with this but I can tell you my unofficial schedule is the following and it works for me (the following applies to my professional interaction):
- Morning: Check for any new comments, replies, and so on and be sure to comment back, reply to, and so on. This is a quick check and takes maybe 10 minutes of my morning if it’s been busy.
- Noon: I start doing a monitor of my channels around 11am and this stint lasts till about 1:30pm or so. I’m not actively taking part that whole time but I’ll actually go and seek out activity to participate in at one point or another.
- Evening: If I have time to kill I will occasionally hop on for another 10-20 minutes in the evening, but usually I have my personal life to attend to!
On another note – unless you are marketing yourself as your brand, it’s important to separate your personal accounts from your professional accounts.
When I started really focusing on developing my blog here to help small business owners, I knew all my Facebook friends were not going to like hearing about my professional endeavors and posts on a regular basis. Most of them are not small business owners. So I created my own Facebook page for my professional life.
That said, I have a more professional network on Twitter who would be more interested in my small business posts by nature, so I left my Twitter account as is (because my brand is ME).
Google+ allows for great filtering, so I make sure to share my professional and small business posts with Circles I know are interested. On that note, if you are interested in getting in my Small Business Circle for relevant updates just post a comment at the end of this post with your Google+ link! Or just add me to your Business Circles, and you’ll get my public posts (which are usually professionally related).
You can take your situation and apply the same type of logic. If you’re promoting a brand, set up new accounts to reflect that brand. If your brand is you, make sure to evaluate your current audience and whether or not they will appreciate your new focus, and update accordingly.
Pick your poison!
I personally recommend experimenting with 2-3 social networks and learn what works for you and your brand.
Here’s a list of the current social networks you should consider to start with.
Note: These are not linked to the main sites – I have linked to Business Guides for each social network.
I only recommend Google+ as a personal experiment as they do not yet support business profiles.
Social media is a big topic and there’s no way to cover everything in a single post. What did you find most useful? What questions do you still have?
Thanks for being a part of this great journey! I hope you’ve been having as much fun learning as I’ve been having writing for you. Next week is the last post of the Small Business Website Guide for Business Owners and we’ll be covering an intro to paid advertising!
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