A few simple steps to Social Media Stardom for SMBs

Small business owners wear a lot of hats. You’re the CEO, the President, the HR rep, the Marketing department; the Finance Department…the list goes on and on. In the ever-increasing to-do list of the small business, simple steps to help with marketing and promotion are often shuffled to the bottom. When you think of social media, what do you think?

If the last few years have proven anything, it’s that social media is here to stay and it’s where your customers are spending their time. If you aren’t there to join the conversation, your competitors will be. So, what are three things you can do today to jump-start your social media presence?

 1. Open an account

This is elementary of course, but you can’t join the conversation if you aren’t using social media. At minimum, you should have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can easily link the three and post once to three potentially different audiences.

 2. Follow other people or businesses you admire

One way to get followers is to follow others. In one week, you can as much as double your followers just by starting to follow more people and use your account(s).

 3. Participate in other discussions

Worried you won’t have anything interesting to say? Read through your feeds and re-post the things that resonate with you. Make sure you always provide credit to the original source, but put your own spin on it. Add some value and show you are an expert in your field. Make sure you respond to any mentions or messages from current or potential customers. Some may be complaints you’ll want to resolve offline, but you don’t want to ignore any conversations.  

It can be tempting to broadcast every message about your company or your brand, but be sure to follow the 80/20 rule. This rule states that just 20% of your social media content should be about your brand. People want to enter into meaningful conversations, and if you respect that and provide them with a place to be heard, you’ll be rewarded with an increased following and increased engagement.

Lessons from Ferguson

Something amazing happened earlier this week when people turned out to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown after an alleged convenience store robbery.  The images shared by LA Times reporter, Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) and others were shocking and terrifying in a free state.  The most startling to me shows the difference a day made in police response and that visual of police armed to the teeth versus sharing in a community’s grief.

That social media has changed the way we report and digest news is not at all new, but to watch this unfold with live tweeting, to see people across the world joining one side or the other virtually.  It was something to behold.

There are questions.  There is hurt. There are many, many lessons for us as members of society.  Did we learn anything?  Will we do anything differently next time?

I hope so.  The Twitterverse will certainly be watching.


If you write it, they will come…

Bad movie puns aside, this blog exercise has been one with surprising results.  A few weeks and posts in, and I am up to 89 actual blog subscribers, the majority of whom, are complete strangers.  Evaluating when they subscribed and what content they are engaging with has provided a great glimpse of the DNA of the individuals.

I’m not suggesting companies or individuals with thousands of followers can or should do this by hand, but it’s a basic marketing principle that you should understand who your audience is.  I started this blog to talk about marketing.  My audience is made up mostly of writers.  Is this an accident?  Or is it more likely an accurate representation of the heart of most of my posts.  Writing…

So, if you are a big company or individual with too many followers to truly get to know personally, what do you do?  In this age of big data, there’s no reason not to provide the kind of content and personalization folks expect from their neighborhood hangout.  Getting the initial traffic is only half the battle.  Making sure you are delivering relevant, timely content and valuing the time someone chooses to spend with you is equally important.

I had the opportunity to meet some of the folks at GetSmartContent this week.  They’re doing great things with personalized content on a company’s website.  If you know our work at VLG, you know we’re doing it on a small scale with personalized, 1:1, direct marketing campaigns.  The analysts at SiriusDecisions will call this Small Net Fishing.  We think it’s just smart marketing.

So, what are your current personalized efforts? Are they effective? Did you start with a plan or stumble your way into one?