Hello, I’m Sean D. Francis and over the next few minutes I’m going to discuss Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses. I’m will explain what it is, why your business needs to be doing it, and how to do it. By the end of this presentation, you will have a basic understanding of what social media marketing is and the various factors that you will need to consider before using this resource to promote your business, brands, and services. Social media is a catch all term to describe how people interact using not just language, but pictures, movies, and artwork, sharing ideas and concepts through a diverse media spectrum. Blogs, podcasts, video casts, reviews, and photographs are just some of the basic elements people are using to interact on the internet and your business is either a part of that conversation or it might as well not exist.
The first question on your minds should be, “Why should I invest resources in social media marketing when my traditional marketing methods are working?” Social Media Marketing is cost effective. Most of the basic methods of using social media marketing, such as Facebook and Twitter, are free to use. You aren’t spending money on a webhost and a person to maintain your website. You are effectively removing a technological barrier and expense for reaching new customers. Using social media helps build loyalty from your customers. It has become generally accepted that it costs more to get a new customer than retaining a customer. Anything that lets your customers connect to your business on a personal level is something that helps retain them as customers. They aren’t going to just any business, they are going to ‘their’ business. Their coffeeshop, their hair salon, their wine store, their bookstore. You help make this happen through social media. Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your business online. They are telling their friends, family, and coworkers about your products and services. Every interaction your customers have with you is a story they are sharing online. Your reputation is in their hands. You can’t control this, but you can participate in it. Trying to handle public relations online after the fact is a nightmare. Social media builds communities .
Communities work together for mutual benefit. Being a part of a community means you have many people looking out for you and your interests.
There are far too many ways to engage in social media for me to detail in this limited presentation. What you see here are some of the key ways to start engaging in the social media sphere. Twitter has become a relatively simple way for people to engage with others, and it provides a simply way to reach out to potential new customers who are already expressing an interest or curiosity about products and services your business provides. Facebook is another way to create an online presence cheaply and a place to provide a forum for customers to discuss your products and services, share their stories, and begin creating a community. Blogs aren’t for everyone as they do require more resources to create and maintain, but for specific types of businesses it is a great way of giving people more detailed information about your company, your processes, and sharing your stories. Location based applications like Foursquare and GoWalla provide a way to see who are your most loyal customers and supporters. If utilized correctly, you can reward your frequent customers, acknowledge them, and help entice new customers into your business. I’m just going to briefly mention Buzz from Google. Buzz is like Twitter, but it allows for an ongoing discussion like you can find on Facebook. It is a service that can be used in conjunction with others, but since it is essentially brand new, people are still finding ways to use this effectively. Which brings up the point that the social media environment is always changing. Two years ago this presentation wouldn’t have mentioned Foursquare and would have been talking about Myspace. To succeed with social media, you need to use a diverse array of services.
Who in your organization should be using social media to help market your business? You should. You are the person who has the most to gain and lose in your business. You are also the face and voice of your business and ultimately are responsible for the reputation you earn. This may be daunting to you, so you can utilize a social media manager, someone who is experienced with social media and can represent your business for you. A social media manager adds cost to marketing, so make sure the return on investment is worth the expenditure. Your employees are also a resource you should consider since they have an interest in the success of your company. Of course you don’t want them ignoring their jobs to send out messages on Twitter, but if someone has a question that can be best answered by one of your people, then have one of your people answer it. Social media is a two way street and your loyal customers will begin to act as agents for your business, which is a great resource. User generated content about your business is free and word-of-mouth information tends to be trusted since it is coming from a trusted source.
Now you are asking, “If my business decides to begin social media marketing, how do I start?” I’m going to bypass the basics of how to set up accounts on all the services and Facebook pages, blogs, and all that and focus on a three step process that will serve you best. Create and Announce. Creation is the key. You’ve most likely already done this. You’ve already created a product or service. Once it is created, you can announce it, broadcast it, send it off into the web. After it is announced, it is time to discuss it. As people pick up the announcement, you need to participate in their discussion, answer their questions, and entice them.
3. Reflect. Analyze what was done, what worked. Determine if the costs were worth the benefits and how can you take what your learned and apply it to start the process over. I’d like to run you through a quick example of each of these steps now.
Let’s assume your business is a sandwich shop. You recently added a vegan sandwich to your menu and it isn’t selling as well as you thought it would. Your traditional advertising in a local free weekly paper doesn’t allow you to spotlight particular menu items. You log into twitter and fire off a message, letting your followers know about the new sandwich. That is the key, people are following your business because they want this information. You aren’t putting flyers on people’s car windshields, annoying them with litter, calling them during dinner, or interrupting their conversations. They have chosen to listen to you. When you make this announcement, one of them picks it up and resends it to everyone that is following her. Her followers have also chosen to listen to her and will pay attention to what she is saying. You’ve now indirectly reached a group of people who might not have been aware of your new sandwich. The cost to your business? Just the time it took to send out that original message.
Social media doesn’t stop working for you there. Continuing to use Twitter as my example service, there is a constant stream of communication occurring and at any time someone may express an interest in something relating to your business. A random person mentions a desire for a vegan sandwich on Twitter. You can’t monitor the entire Twitter stream but you have loyal customers who follow you and who now are aware of your vegan sandwich. They respond to the random tweet by mentioning your business and sandwich, which alerts you that this conversation is happening. You now have the opportunity to reach out to the potential new customer and let them know about your sandwich. Consider the power of that. You’ve now extended a personal invitation to this person making him a potential new customer. The opportunities don’t stop there. You are now able to directly contact your loyal customer and thank her for her support, thus encouraging her loyalty by letting her know her efforts are appreciated.
You can measure the success of your social media marketing effort by looking at the sales of your vegan sandwich. Are you selling more than normal or is it the same? Maybe sales were so strong you decide to offer a second vegan option, or maybe branch out into another niche food. Or maybe you want to keep momentum going on your current offering by expanding the social media presence for it by creating a Facebook fanpage which would create a rallying point for the customers who love your sandwich. There are many options and through this entire process, cost to your business is the time spent on the services allowing you to connect to your current customers and connecting with potential new customers.
What I’ve demonstrated within this small presentation is the tip of the iceberg so to speak. Social media marketing is about blogs and websites, about message services like Twitter and Buzz, about location services like Foursquare, about community services like Facebook and LinkedIn, about YouTube, Ustream, Flickr, and so many other services that are just now being invented by our children that we can’t even begin to imagine. It isn’t possible or practical to actively use all these services in the marketing of your business. You need to pick and choose the services that best represents your products and services. As with most things, there are the correct tools for a job, the tools you could use, and tools that are completely worthless for the task at hand. Thank you for your time and I hope you have received the basic information about how to start using social media marketing for your small business. My name is Sean D. Francis and I will happily answer any questions you may have regarding this presentation. My twitter account is SeanDFrancis and you can email me at [email_address] . Thank you again.
For Small Businesses Prepared by Sean D. Francis http://www.seandfrancis.com Twitter: @seandfrancis [email_address]
Cost Effective Loyalty Reputation Community Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing @YourBusiness: We just added a vegan sandwich to our menu! Come check it out! @LoyalCustomer: Sounds awesome! RT @YourBusiness We just added a vegan sandwich to our menu! Come check it out!
Social Media Marketing @RandomTweet: I wish I could find a good vegan sandwich. @LoyalCustomer: You should try @YourBusiness – they have a great vegan sandwich. @YourBusiness: @RandomTweet, we’d love for you to come in and try our sandwich. We think it is the best around. Here is a link to a coupon: http://url.com/etc . @YourBusiness: DM @LoyalCustomer, thanks for the support.
Social Media Marketing @YourBusiness: The response to our new vegan sandwich is amazing. Become a fan! http://www.facebook.com/fanpage
Prepared by Sean D. Francis http://www.seandfrancis.com Twitter: @seandfrancis [email_address]