Social Media for Small Businesses


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Social media – everyone is thinking about it in some way, shape, or form. As a small business owner, it’s often daunting to figure out how to prioritize your time and participate in social media in the most productive way possible.

To help you sort through the noise, we’ve reached out to a panel of esteemed social media experts and asked them all a single question: “What is the most effective way a small business can use social media“?

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Social Media for Small Businesses

  2. 2. Hmm… a single most effective way? I’m not sure there’s one effective Ann Handley way to use social media, but there is one key: Consistency. Unlike other Ann is Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and the co-author of “Content Rules“ kinds of marketing, social media requires ongoing and active participation, and the communities you build there require consistent nurturing. The most successful companies using social media don’t have a one-and-done campaign mentality, but understand that it’s an ongoing commitment.Think of your social media efforts as less like marketing, too, and more like publishing. In other words, think about growing your audience and following that by providing them with interesting, solid, enjoyable, and sometimes fun information that will interest them. It’s not about pushing your messages out. It’s about connecting through content: Curating and creating content, amplifying that content through social channels, and then refining and responding to your audience. Which, by the way, is exactly what publishers do. 2
  3. 3. If you are the founder of a small business, It’s really easy to use social Brad Feld media – just do it. As the founder, you’ve got to dive in and embrace it Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for over twenty years. He has co-founded Foundry Group, Mobius Venture Capital, and Intensity Ventures. Brad is also a co-founder of TechStars. 3 fully and authentically. It’s not something you can hand off to someone else or delegate – you have to incorporate social media into the voice of your company, which has to come from you.
  4. 4. Thanks for viewing! Nice find! You're well on your way to becoming a sales machine. Now be a friend and share this resource with hundreds of your closest Internet pals.
  5. 5. Smart small business owners use social media to build communities Deborah Ng around their brand in order to have honest discussions about their Deborah Ng is Conference Director for BlogWorld NY and LA conferences and is also the Author of Online Community Management for Dummies which is due out later this year. Deb publishes a blog at Kommein product or service. By offering rewards, and perks, and gathering feedback and acting upon said feedback, the small business owners aren’t only learning what drives their community, but they also create advocates who are happy to recommend the brand to others. 4
  6. 6. There is no single most effective way for a small business to use social Francine Hardaway media because there is no such thing as a typical small business. If you look at the way the category of small business is routinely sliced and diced, it could be by SIC or NIC codes or by number of employees. But if Francine is co-founder of Stealthmode Partners and is an accomplished consultant, speaker and writer and blogs at Stealthmode Blog. you talk to small businesses about what they do, they categorize themselves by what they do: I am a doctor, I am a pool cleaner, I am a welder, I am a web developer. And many small businesses are fiercely local.For any of these, the best start is monitoring. Not for your brand, probably unknown, but for generic things people are talking about in your field: lousy landscapers who leave the gate open to let the dog out, people who want fences that don’t block their view. Dry cleaning that isn’t poisonous. Web sites that have e-commerce carts. Getting customers to your coffee shop in the afternoons.Look for 1) ways your business can address common problems better. 2) ways you can offer better customer service 3) ways to connect personally to potential customers in your geography.And, BTW, don’t expect miracles. Social media is not free: it’s a time suck. And it doesn’t make sales. It does build brand. But that takes personal participation over years. 5
  7. 7. The most effective way a small business can use social media is really Gini Dietrich three-fold: 1) Use Google alerts to keep yourself updated on what’s being Gini is CEO of Chicago based Arment Dietrich and is an accomplished, author, speaker and communicator. Also, Gini’s famous blog, SpinSucks, is known web-wide said about you, your business, the industry, and your top three competitors. It’s a free tool and it’s a must have for any digital program planning. 2) Learn the basics of search engine optimization and how to use social, in combination with SEO, to increase your Google juice. 3) Develop a really smart content marketing program. We talk a lot about this at Spin Sucks, but every company eventually will become a media company. If you can get there now, before anyone else does, you’ll be a good 18-24 months ahead of your competition. 6
  8. 8. Use social media to stay top of mind with your community.A lot of small Jamillah Warner businesses struggle with ways to monetize their social media efforts. But Jamillah Warner is a poet with a passion for business and is the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions using it to meet your people where they are (on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, etc) helps them to remember and reconnect with you, more often. In business, reconnecting leads to that repeat sale. If you guys are in the same social network, then your feed shows up in their social stream. Your solutions, tips, advice, rewards, contests keeps you in the loop. Plus, you get to overhear what they love and hate–and feedback is always good for business.We trust what we know. Social media gives people a chance to “know” you differently and remember you consistently. And it gives you the chance to “know” your clients. 7
  9. 9. What was most liberating when first diving into social media for my Jill Foster business was to make the mental decision that perfection was not the Live Your Talk founder and videoblogger Jill Foster ( is a speaker coach for people in technical and social tech fields (or as some say: a speaker coach for techies). She’s coached CEOs, entrepreneurs, and innovators makin’ it happen for stages like TED and TEDx, Ignite, and other keynotes. goal, just consistent participation. So to that end, I learned and listened regularly on a few social networks when starting out. Then experimenting with content creation began to unfold. And I eventually became a big proponent of video. It was (still is!) a natural fit for my work as a speaker coach and how I want to ultimately engage with & teach my client community.For small businesses getting started, it’s an exciting time in social media. In your authentic way, I suggest greeting the social space with a sense of discovery for who you serve and a willingness to experiment. 8
  10. 10. The most effective way a small business can use social media is to be John Gruber honest and plainspoken about news and information of interest to John Gruber is an Apple enthusiast and writer of Daring Fireball 9 customers. That’s it.
  11. 11. The most effective way small businesses can use social media is to utilize Kristi Hines it as a way to engage with their audience. Social media isn’t all about Kristi Hines is a freelance writer for Future Simple’s Growth University and is a blogging and social media enthusiast. She’s also a blogs at Kikolani marketing and sales – it’s also about customer support and service. It can be a great way to simply get content to your clients and potential clients to help them learn more about your industry as a whole. Overall, social media can help you build relationships that lead to stronger brand loyalty among your clients. 10
  12. 12. Social media offers small business a chance to share expertise with new Liz Strauss customers when they’re searching for answers and even before problems Liz is a Brand Strategist, Community Builder, Founder of SOBCon. She blogs at and occur. Sharing information via social tools can attract people who share the same values. With a clear shareable message that invites people to participate, a small business can reach out to customers and connect in more ways than ever before, responding with speed, ease, and meaning that builds lasting relationships online and off. 11
  13. 13. The most effective way a small business can use social media is to focus Michael Stelzner on developing a content strategy (ideally in the form of a blog). People Michael Stelzner, founder of and author of Launch love sharing great content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Let your content become the reason people choose to come back time and again to your site. 12
  14. 14. Social media marketing is very noisy, so unless you figure out a way to Missy Ward cut through the hubbub, your ROI will be DOA. The best way to do this is Missy co-founded Affiliate Summit and FeedFront magazine, is copublisher of Revenews and also runs Suze Orman’s social networking site, Money Minded Moms. You can find more about all that Missy does on her website to first figure out what you want to achieve by using social media (branding, commerce, customer service, employee communications, etc.) and develop a focused strategy (content, budget, resources, etc.) before you even bother jumping in.The important thing to remember is that no matter what you’re going to use social media for, your audience is not going to grant you permission to engage them if you don’t share in their interests. Be the type of person that they want to connect with by listening to their needs and providing reliable and relevant information they’re looking for. 13
  15. 15. The answer is that a small business should be run as if everyone else Seth Godin had a social media account and you don’t Seth Godin has written 13 books (all bestsellers) that have been translated into more than 30 languages – his latest book is Poke The Box. 14
  16. 16. The most effective way small business can use social media is to think of Steve Garfield it as having a conversation with friends and friends you haven’t met Steve Garfield is the author of Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business, founder of Boston Media Makers, and host of yet.When I post to twitter, I’m sharing things that I’m interested in. Lots of times I’m making comments on the news, or or forwarding interesting blog posts. As it relates to video, I’ll share news on new cameras, new software, and new websites. For me, twitter is a place where what used to be a one-to-one conversation is public. Many of my followers retweet my posts and that exposes them to friends I haven’t met yet.When I follow people on Twitter, I get to see shared moments of their lives, and get a sense of who they are. It’s a great way to see what people are like, and can help you decide if you might want to work with them in the future.The bottom line is that social media should be all about social first, and business second. From time to time I’ll post about my book, Get Seen, and about my live show Those posts though, are probably around 1% of what I am sharing on social media.Businesses are made up of people, and social media is people. 15
  17. 17. Small businesses first need to understand the goal of social media. It’s Susan Payton not to generate overnight sales; it’s to build trust with current and future Susan Payton is a writer for FutureSimple Growth University. She is also the President of Egg Marketing & Communications customers. Engage in conversations, share links (even if they’re not your own), ask questions and respond to comments about your brand. Social media is only one channel of your marketing strategy, but it’s an important one. Use it to find out what customers want and what they don’t want. Learn from what your competitors are doing in this space and do it better! 16
  18. 18. I think people get very caught up in the numbers game – even I Viveka von Rosen recommend creating as many connections on LinkedIn, “Likes” on Viveka is a social media enthusiast, speaker & trainer. She also hosts #LinkedInChat & is the author of Linked Into Business. She also runs the social media resource Smart Blonde Media Facebook and Followers on twitter as possible. I believe the mistake many people make is thinking that huge networks with slick automated functions is the way to do social media. The reason social media works is the people. If we focus solely on building giant networks but forget to create a genuine relationship with some of those connections, then we’ll never attract the people to eventually purchase our product or service. Recently I’ve become excited about the Social CRM apps being developed – hoping one of them will help me create a system where I am regularly reaching back out to the very individuals who helped position me in the first place. To answer the question directly – what is one of the most effective way a small business can use social media? To connect and build relationships with their ideal customer base, one person at a time. 17
  19. 19. There is no way around it – you must first understand why: Why are you Yvonne DiVita venturing into blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. Is it Yvonne is a very long time blogger, author, Co-Founder at BlogPaws and President at Windsor Media Enterprises. Yvonne blogs at Lip-Sticking Blog primarily to increase sales or leads? Is it for branding purposes? Is it to learn the tools as you go? The goal of social media is to be social. If you are not prepared to make friends and connect with your customers on a real-time basis, you will find social media frustrating and time-consuming. To be most effective, learn everything you can about the tools – test them over time – and devote an hour or two a day to participating, without worrying about ROI. The ROI will be apparent, over time. To put that in perspective – what’s the ROI of your cell phone? Apply your answer to social media. 18