Social Media for Small Business

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in Social Media

by Sage

If you didn’t get involved in social media last year you no doubt heard lots about it and either wondered what all the hoopla was about or thought of dipping your toe in the water.

Are you in the business of acquiring and keeping customers? If you answered “yes”  then 2010 is the year to put social media to work for you. Why? Two reasons:

1)    Your customers are using social media

Twitter

2)    Your competitors are using social media (and getting set to eat your lunch)

Did you know?

With over 350 millions users today, if Facebook were a country it would be the fourth most populous country in the world, and according to Nielsen Research two-thirds of the Internet population visit social networks. There are now over 20 million Twitter users posting 3 million tweets a day and *50% of marketers are using social media to generate leads. Clearly there’s something compelling happening here.

Done properly, social media marketing can be an effective way reach prospects and stay connected with customers. But before getting started, there are a few things you’ll need to know to help you get the most out of social media and avoid the pitfalls.Facebook

What is Social Media?? Knowing the answer to this question is a good place to start. The technical definition found on Wikipedia is: “Internet and mobile tools for sharing and discussing information” or “the changing trends in the use of web technology and design”.

What social media is really about conversations. Conversations made richer and more convenient. Social media offers users a set of tools enabling you to create and share information and stories including links, images, audio and video, one-to-one or one-to-many.

Know Your Story Rocky Mountain Soap

Rocky Mountain Soap is a Victoria BC retailer of natural soaps and body care products. They began using social media (blog, Twitter and Facebook) in June 2009 to generate awareness of their store and build a following online.

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows users to send and receive “tweets” which are text based messages of up to 140 characters in length. Tweets will often include links to web pages with more information.

Marketing Manager, Scott McDonald, who goes by the Twitter handle “@FootButterGuy”, credits social media with a significant increase in store sales for the last two quarters of 2009. In fact, after a “product swap” campaign that they promoted on Twitter and Facebook, sales were up over 100% and their social media profiles overflowed with positive customer comments.

Have a read through their blog and Twitter feed and you will understand why Scott’s social media approach has been successful. He’s friendly and self-effacing, yet engaging and full of relevant, useful content that customers naturally want to share with their friends. Even his Twitter bio espouses humility. “Just a guy making bubbles at Rocky Mountain Soap (Victoria), learning about how natural is important and sharing that.”

Marketing Tweet

Their blog posts, Facebook updates and tweets highlight the importance of natural body care products and educate their customers by sharing information and creating a community around health conscious folks. They know their story and they’re telling it via social media. Rocky Mountain Soap – Victoria is doing social media right.

Hyper-local Marketing

Once you know your story the two key components to social media success for small businesses are immediacy and targeting. Twitter and Facebook enable you to target people in your geographic location with timely messages like special offers, sales, new product and event announcements. To do so you’ll need to find and engage the ‘tribe’ most interested in your product or service.

You can start by using tools like Twitter Search and Twellow to find people who live in your area and are interested in your company and products or services. Once you find them get to know them by first “following” them and then start connecting by answering questions, sharing content that may be of value, or helping them by sharing or retweeting their posts.

To “retweet” is to repeat/quote someone’s tweet. Usually when you come across an interesting tweet and you want to forward it so that people who follow you see it too – you retweet it.

Retweeting is something Scott from Rocky Mountain Soap does often and does well. He has been building the company’s social capital by doing the right things like participating in offline social media events like local Tweetups (real world meeting between two or more people who know each other via Twitter) and getting involved in social media related charity events like Twestival and the Twingerbread house build.

Twingerbread

Social Media Planning

As with any marketing communications, it’s critical for small businesses to plan their social media marketing before they get started. In order to know if your efforts are succeeding and calculate an ROI, you’ll want to establish goals and have the right metrics and tools in place to measure them. A natural place to start is by installing Google Analytics on your website if you don’t currently have a stats package or even if you’re using AW stats or some other basic tool.

Do you simply want to raise awareness of your company, drive store traffic and increase sales, or increase loyalty among a core group of customers? Once you know what you want to achieve with social media you’re well on your way to integrating it into your overall communications plan and measuring success.

Make 2010 your year for social media and business growth. The time to tap into it is now, before your customers start asking why you’re not on Twitter, or worse yet, don’t ask and simply move on to your competition.

What will you do to make 2010 a successful year for your business? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

*According to an Adology report