BUSINESSBLOGS.CO.NZ PRESENTS Social Media for Small BusinessA guide for small business owners who just want facts not HYPE
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Confucius
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SAbout this BookEverywhere you look people are writing about social media: newspapers, magazines,bloggers, news channels, in-flight magazines, books and even your mum.After reading a few of these articles you will notice the same key theme comingthrough; if your business is not using social media then you are missing out onmassive opportunities.I have created this eBook to help the small business owner make sense of social mediaand clearly separate the parts of “social media” that could work for your business andhelp you identify the mindless copycat ranting of people that call themselves “experts”who do more damage than good.This eBook comprises of our own strategy for using social media that works for ourclients and us. Additionally the eBook contains a selection of articles that provide awealth of information for the small business owner.However the first thing I want to cover off with you is the importance of not panickingand thinking that your business will fail if your not using social media right now.You may remember the over-hyped, near religious ranting, of the ecommerce 90’swhen people were preaching that most shopping would be done online and therewould only be a few bricks and mortar businesses left in the world.Ha! Someone forgot to tell Wal-Mart and the other megamalls around the world andall the local stores we all love and cherish.What I have found is that when something new and shiny comes out you have theearly adopters who come in, claim it as the only future we have and then startpanicking everyone else.So settle in and read this eBook before you start spending any money and time onsocial media. I do hope you will gain a little more information that helps you to makebetter decisions about how you can utilize social media for your business.
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SAbout the Author Marc Krisjanous is the technical lead at Mobilize Mail Limited responsible for CampaignHub™ (http://www.CampaignHub.co.nz) which provides social media solutions for New Zealand businesses. Marc has been in the Internet “game” for over 10 years so far and loves the challenge of new and evolving technologies.About CampaignHub™CampaignHub™ provides social media solutions for New Zealand businesses startingat strategy right through to the tools used to attract, filter and identify real prospectsfor your business.CampaignHub™ is also unique in the market insofar as it helps clients grow theirnetworks by leveraging off CampaignHub’s own extensive social networkcommunities.“We set a higher bar for this Campaign and reached it. It’s amazing how much canbe achieved in two weeks and how easy it is to measure ROI.The CampaignHub team took care of everything once again and they were great atcoaching me through the phases including post campaign follow up.Running these campaigns is going to be a regular occurrence for us – thankgoodness Mobilize Mail created CampaignHub for our business.”Josie – Rodney Wayne, Wellington (Client’s testimonial)
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S STable of ContentsAbout CampaignHub™ ............................................................. iSocial Network Versus Social Media ........................................ 3Outbound Marketing ................................................................. 4Inbound Marketing ................................................................... 6The 3 Most Important Social Networks Your Business Needs aPresence In .............................................................................. 8Social Media is NOT Free ...................................................... 14The BIGGEST mistake you can make online ......................... 18You need a Home Base ......................................................... 19Knowledge For Greater Email & Social Media Success ......... 24Choose Relevant Content For Higher ROI ............................. 25Is Social Media Too Expensive for Small Business? .............. 27Vital Tips for New Zealand Businesses New to Social Media . 29
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S S 1 Chapter What is Social Media? In this chapter I cover the basics of “Social Media” and introduce the 3 most important social networks you should consider for your business. Social Network Versus Social Media The first item on the agenda is to clarify the term “social media”. This term has been used since the beginning but in fact when people talk about “social media” they are normally taking about social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “Social media” initially was the term used to describe the technology that is used to create social connections or community. However once mainstream media started talking about Facebook, Twitter and other online communities they used “social media” instead of the correct term “social network”. Anyway – “social media” sounds less nerdy than “social network”. The term “Social Media” is new but what it represents is as old as the Internet itself. Before our children talked about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube, StumbleUpon, Digg Bebo and the other 100’s1 more there was Internet Relay Chat (IRC), forums, bulletin boards and of course good-old email. Indeed, even before the likes of Facebook and Twitter some of us were already communicating with each other using globally connected computers as the latest communication channel. A common definition for the term is:1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S S “Social Media” is the use of technology combined with social interaction to create or co-create value.2 So if we have been socializing since the dawn of time why is “social media” currently having huge amounts of press coverage? Well it’s because you and I are not listening anymore. Outbound Marketing Most businesses attempt to disrupt in order to gain your attention. Here are some examples of how businesses attempt to disrupt: • Loud TV commercials full of terrible color combinations, big letters and head-banging background music. • Telemarketers who have an amazing knack of ringing people just when they have relaxed in front of the TV. • Overly aggressive shop assistants who won’t be able to afford to eat if they don’t sell you something. • Adverts injected into TV programs, radio shows, video games, music, movies etc… • Pumping hypnotic music and familiar smells into the shop that spark happy memories of your childhood. • Letterbox mail (direct un-addressed mail). • And all of our favorite, unwanted emails (SPAM). • Let’s not forget a common reason – straight-out lying. Let me ask you a question (it’s really two)… When reading the newspaper (the real paper version) do you ever notice and read the adverts? What about reading articles on a website – do you read the advertisements? No?2 http://www.ducttapemarketing.com
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SWell that is how most businesses try to get noticed - by disruptinglong enough to get you to take action or at least remember theirbrand.The term used for this type of marketing is called “OutboundMarketing” and it’s failing fast. Viewers are creating walls to blockout the disruption and we are using technology to do the job.How many anti-disruption devices do you use? • SPAM filters for unwanted email. • The rubbish bin for direct mail. • Caller ID for telemarketers. • Visual blind spots for advertisements online and offline. • The mute button or services such as TiVo for TV ad breaks. • Ignoring or abusing shop assistants.The image below shows visually how businesses try and disrupt inorder to get some ‘sell’ time with you. However since this style ofmarketing has been going on far too long, we have now createdwalls to block or filter out the disruption. Source: http://www.BusinessBlogs.co.nz
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SIn fact some of us are so sick of being disrupted that we haveturned to social networks to connect and be entertained, andignore traditional media e.g. newspapers, TV etc…How many of us see our own children spend more time in front ofthe computer than the TV? Maybe you and your friends arespending a bit more time checking out the latest funny videos onYouTube or trying to connect with lost love interests on Facebook?So if we all have put up walls to block disruption and now spendmore time using social networks such as YouTube and Facebookhow can businesses connect with you?Well the answer is simple – they also use YouTube, Facebook andother sites to connect. But what is so powerfully different now isthat you and I are in control of the connection NOT the business.It is extremely hard for a business to disrupt consumers in thesocial networks because they first have to get permission via“friendship requests”. The control is now in the consumer’s handsto accept or deny a connection with a business.Even if you give them a chance and accept their request to connect,if they disappoint you, it takes just one click from you and they aregone from your network.This change in how we connect is a major challenge for businessesand slowly but surely some of them are waking up to find that theonly way to spend time with you is to gain your trust and respect,so you accept their requests to join their network.This process of gaining your trust and respect so you listen is called“Inbound Marketing”.Inbound MarketingConsider this scenario - you’re at a party chatting with close friendsand out of the blue a stranger joins your group and starts handingout their business card and starts talking about their business.What is your reaction?Well I guess it would be to smile politely, slip the business card inyour pocket and hope like hell he or she leaves the group as fast asthey arrived.
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SThis scenario is a good example of “Outbound Marketing” usingdisruption and ultimately generating a negative result.How “Inbound Marketing” works in this same situation is thestranger would very politely introduce herself to the group sayingshe is interested in the group’s discussion. When the opportunitypresents itself the new group member would provide her input toassist with the enjoyment and knowledge of the discussion. On noaccount would she try to sell you anything!When the new group member leaves the group what would you allthink about her? Would you want to know her name and look forher at the next party?This is “Inbound Marketing”. A business provides advice and valueto you for nothing in return. Overtime you gain trust and respectfor this business and when you do need to buy what they sell, 9 outof 10 times you will go with them instead of their competitors. Youmight even feel so good about the business that you refer yourfriends to them.The image below shows visually how “Inbound Marketing” works.Businesses use social networks to connect with you in a mannermuch like our party example. They add value and enter intodiscussions with you in order to help out. Overtime, out of interestor need, you will contact them and ultimately buy from them orrefer your friends. Source: http://www.BusinessBlogs.co.nz
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SAs you can see “Inbound Marketing” uses social networks andservices to connect with prospects and clients. This is why you seea lot of articles about how businesses should use social media.However, as a business there are many ways to really “shootyourself in the foot” in social networks. Just like any real-life partythere are defined social rules and etiquette to follow.The 3 Most Important Social Networks YourBusiness Needs a Presence InIn this section I am going to provide a basic overview of the 3 mostimportant social networks for your business.My advice is to ignore all others as they have fewer peoplecompared to the ‘big 3’ and with limited time to invest in socialnetworks your business wants maximum bang for your buck.To help explain how each of the big 3 social networks work I willuse a “real-world” analogy that I hope you can relate to.So here we go – the most important social networks for business.LinkedIn – “Ladies and Gentlemen’s Business Club”Take yourself back 100 years and imagine being invited to the“Ladies and Gentlemen’s Business Club” for a polite afternoon teato discuss worldly events. The dress code is dinner suit and cocktaildress and all discussion is extremely polite and in no wayconfrontational. All unpleasant issues are discussed elsewhere.In my opinion this sums up LinkedIn really well.To have any success in LinkedIn you must be on your absolute bestbehavior and act at all times in a most professional manner. If youget this right you can be introduced to some very excitingopportunities and networks.Some of my best opportunities and contacts from social networkshave come via LinkedIn but it’s not for everyone. LinkedIn is bestfor business consulting and specialist services. It’s not great forbusiness owners looking for customers for their flower shop orhardware store.You also have to spend a reasonable amount of time connectingand chatting in LinkedIn before anyone starts remembering you.
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SOut of the top 3 social networks it requires the most effort and isbest suited for consulting and services businesses.Twitter – “Where is your soapbox?”Twitter is the latest sweetheart in “social media” and in my opinionthe least understood so I will devote a bit more to explaining thisdarling of social media.It has taken me over 12 months to understand what Twitter is trulyabout.Let me explain Twitter to you…Every city in the world has street performers. People who do funnyand dangerous acts in public places all for a few coins tossed in ahat.The type of street performer I want to look at is the one thatentertains not through physical action but through the use of voice.They normally stand on a “soapbox” and entertain you via theirwitty conversation or powerful views on topics such as politics andreligion.
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S S This is what Twitter is all about – you get on your electronic soapbox which amazingly is called a “handle” 3 and make yourself heard on Twitter normally by sharing links to interesting articles, videos or images. You also present your views on topics that interest you. Just like our street performer people hear you and come over to listen. If they like you they will turn up each time you get on your soapbox. In the Twitter world these people are called “followers” (a bit like band groupies). You have only 140 characters (letters) per yell, which forces people to use text language like they do on mobile phones if they have a lot to yell about. You can of course yell as often as you want but then you get called a “Spammer’ so really it’s not that easy. The most “successful” or “popular” people4 on Twitter are mainly BIG industry business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs etc... or celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher5 who currently has over 5 million followers (groupies) . For the average businessperson it takes a lot more effort and time to get noticed. Some business owners I know spend up to an hour each day chatting and sharing interesting stuff. Now if you can invest an hour each day chatting with people on Twitter then you may get some form of ROI but if you cannot spend at least an hour per day then you need to look at using some form of automation to help you to continue to post messages. If you are not on your soapbox entertaining people frequently then no one follows you. We have been using Twitter for well over a year now and I now see a common pattern with most small businesses that attempt to use Twitter. The pattern follows these steps. 1) The person creates their Twitter profile and starts to work locating and communicating with anyone who is discussing topics that fit into what they sell. 2) The person can then spend up to 10 minutes (or more!!) each working hour checking their Twitter “stream” for any developments on discussions or people contacting them. They3 For the sane among us its also called a “profile” or “account”.4 Success in the Twitter world is denoted by the number of followers you have - this is of course hotly denied bythe hardcore Twitter users but in essence is how people view your power or success.5 http://twitter.com/aplusk
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S S contribute a heap of time, energy and information helping out others – for free.3) Over the initial 3-4 month period the person spends a lot of time forming relationships within Twitter and in time they may actually meet the people in café’s or functions (called “Tweet- ups”).4) After the 4th month or so we see a critical decision being made by the person. What happens around this time is that there is a clear distinction between the people who were using Twitter to help feed their pipeline and people who actually have started using it as a social outlet. The people who were hoping that all the effort they contributed over the 3- 4 months helping others was going to feed their pipeline are normally disappointed at the effort/result ratio and they abandon Twitter. That’s why up to 75% of all Twitter accounts are actually abandon and why the owners of Twitter are working out how to release all these abandoned accounts so people can reuse the profile name again.So why is the effort/result ratio so low with Twitter?Well - because people on Twitter like sharing content with eachother. In fact if you’re not famous and want to have a largefollowing just share interesting links. That’s what we do and thepeople will come.Unfortunately this never really results in increasing your pipelineto the level where the results of your effort pay for your time.Unless you use the right strategy which I will show you latter on
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SUnfortunately this is how most small businesses appear on Twitter.Facebook – “Let’s meet at the mall”Facebook is by far the largest and most active social network in theworld currently sitting on 500 near 600 million. Some even saythat Facebook will be the new Internet due to people spendingmost of their online time in Facebook.A good way to describe Facebook is to think of it as the world’slargest shopping mall. Like many people you meet your friends atyour local shopping mall to eat, chat, buy stuff and generally hangout. Facebook for many is the online version of their favoriteshopping mall.And like a real world shopping mall there are businesses sellingstuff. People walk around the shopping mall window-shopping. Ifthey like what they see they walk into the shop to take a closer look.On Facebook a business has a shop front, which is called a “Page”.This is a businesses official presence in Facebook. For yourbusiness a Facebook Page is your shop front.
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SOne mistake many businesses make is assuming that they are“sexy” enough for Facebook in regards to bringing customers totheir door.Here is a question for you – have you ever seen a lawyer,accountant or mortgage broker in a shopping mall? And if you didby chance – did you see many people go into their shop? I doubt itbecause people go to shopping malls to be entertained just like onFacebook.I am not saying that if you are a lawyer/accountant or the like youcannot find success on Facebook – you just need to take your lackof “sexiness” into consideration. You should in fact have aFacebook Page for your business but really focus your efforts usingLinkedIn where people do expect to talk about and seek outprocessional services.A word on YouTube – Be your own movie starI don’t consider YouTube a direct social network for business eventhough online communities form around people who post a lot ofvideos. YouTube in my opinion is great for hosting videos you haveas you can easily embed the video on blogs/websites, Twitter,Facebook and most other social networks. The best part is youdon’t pay for the bandwidth!
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S SNot everyone can stand in front of a video recorder and chat for afew minutes on a subject without going blank, saying “um” 100’s oftimes and coming across as boring. It takes a lot of practice andskill for most people and hence the reason why there are not manybusiness owners using video as a way to communicate with theirclients and prospects.Video is a very powerful medium to use to get your message acrossin a very personal and direct way.Hosting the video on YouTube also utilizes YouTube’s communityfeatures which encourages a community to form around yourvideos.Since this eBook is for “Social Media Newbies” lets leave YouTubefor another time.Social Media is NOT FreeIn summary, as a small business owner who, I would guess, haslimited time, money and staff resources you need to reflect on thefollowing.3 Models for Using Social MediaWe currently have defined 3 options for using social media as abusiness tool:1) Manual – this is the option where you or your staff members participate within the social networks. You monitor any comments or posts directed towards your profiles and respond. Many “experts” generally consider this the only approach for social media. Below I will provide some key points that you need to be aware of if you chose this option.2) Automated – in this option, which is used by most news based businesses such as CNN and Reuters, information is posted to your social network profiles by software. Businesses use this option to publish their content to social networks to encourage readers back to their site. There is little or no manual interaction.3) Hybrid – this is the option we use. We post content to our social network profiles using our social media software for business. The posts contain links back to our online assets such
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S S as blogs and websites. We also have staff that monitor the profiles once a day for any communication and respond if required – BUT – the response is always designed to send them back to an online asset we own. We always treat social networks as channels back to our own assets. Generally if people are interested in you or your business they will normally contact you via email or phone. Maybe it will change in the future.To further discuss the “Hybrid” option a little more I want to sharewith you a key finding we made when we reviewed our 1-year ofsocial media research in 2010.On Twitter people want content – they are generally not lookingfor communication or “engagement”. The funny thing is mostsocial media “experts” will scoff at this statement; and a lot have,but if you really monitor what is going on within Twitter like we didthe profiles that got the most results for business sharedinteresting links with their followers. They hardly chatted tofollowers and if they did they generally ended the conversation asfast as they could and pointed the person back to their website.Why?Because most people who have been active on Twitter for at least3-4 months start to work out that unless you are very famous oryou are offering mega-good deals on your products such as Dellthen the bulk of people you engage with will not be prospectmaterial. Most are looking for FREE and entertainment.Facebook is a different beast entirely in that you can draw inprospects but only if you would be successful within a physicalshopping mall because the same mentality is used within Facebookas I mentioned above.LinkedIn is a closed network and the only option you have ismanual and we would never go into LinkedIn with anything elsebut the manual option as its all about B2B reputation andnetworks.Key Points on using the Manual OptionAs promised above here are some key points that you need to beaware of when using the manual option.
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S S1) Social media is not FREE. Participating within social networks will cost your business time, money and staff resources. Make sure you monitor how much business resources you are using up and every month compare how many real prospects you got out of this effort. Even better how many converted prospects? Most “experts” will say that this is not how you should use social media – “it’s the end game” or “its all about engagement and adding value”. That’s fine but are you in business to make profit in the short term so you can keep the cash-flow flowing or are you here to work for free? Just like your sales rep that will take a prospect out for coffee – your business can only absorb this for so long before you expect some return on that coffee.2) Do not what ever you do hand this task over to your summer grad or your new marketing “manager” who is fresh out of education. What you post on the Internet stays on the Internet for a very long time. Social media has given people the power to spread content at such speed that serious PR damage can be done to your business in seconds. If an irate customer contacts your business via Twitter and starts ranting abuse (yes it happens every day) and your “Social Community Manager” fresh out of a marketing course gets offended and “gives some back” to the customer you will witness first hand how far that comment will be spread throughout the entire Internet. So either you manage the communication or you get a trusted and mature person that can handle outright abuse. Many young people cannot change their “out of work” communication mentality when communicating within social networks as a business representative.3) I would guess that you have spent quite a bit of time and money creating official business processes for dealing with people contacting the business such as sales processes and customer support processes. When you open up your business to the social networks you are in fact adding another channel for people to communicate with your business; people will also consider it an official channel. Make sure your processes can handle these new forms of communication channels.4) My final point or recommendation is if you are just starting out with social media work out if your customer type(s) is in fact using social media and if so what social networks? Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Once done just focus on that social network only. You will get yourself into a big mess trying to
S O C I A L M E D I A F O R S M A L L B U S I N E S S have a presence in all networks and also waste money if your customer type is not present.In the next chapter I will introduce part of our own strategy forusing social networks to help feed our clients pipeline as well asour own.