Social Media and the Small Business


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Everyday people turn to the web looking for products and turn to blogs, comments, forums, reviews for feedback and want to find you there. Learn how your small business can implement a social media strategy and get started by listening to what your customers and potential customers are saying.

Presented at PodCamp Montréal, September 2010

Published in: Business
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  • In March 2009, we ‘discovered’ social media and were keen on trying it in our company. We are a small software company (25 employees) a 15 year old ‘startup’....providing B2B email security. We ventured into social media around the same time that our company went through a major overhaul in how we were marketing as well as selling our product from a push sell to a pull/inbound marketing. About ME: I’m a product manager, background in software dev and slowly moved over to the business side of things. How did I end up here? Well, social media was something I took a personal interest in due to other projects I’m involved in and consequently brought it to the attention of my boss. Why not marketing? Well, as you know everyone is still learning about this industry-marketers included and working in a small company allows me to try new things beyond my defined role. Consequently, I spent the early part of the year reading, ramping up and watching how other companies have been using the medium and want to share my experiences-how we started, what we decided, getting employee participation as well as staying motivated and on track.
  • The stats also show that: We have all seen the stats?But ewhere to start? In line with our current marketing strategyKeep tabs on our competitors, put ourselves out there
  • Countless competitor blogs I have come across:
  • Ask yourself what the goal is?Why do you want to start?Position Vircom as expert in email security and provide insight on various email issuesCreate brand awareness and presence Stimulate interest and communication within communities – include current customers in the mix, get people talking about you and directly talking to youEngage tech savvy consumers world wide and share expertise Be more involved in the consumer purchase cycle and be able to influence consumer’s consideration to purchaseIncreasing focus on online research - most business consumers research software online before making a purchaseWeb research now dominates the consideration phase of sales cycle - internet has the most influence purchase decisionsFocus on a online vehicles by which we can reach our target audience. • Capitalize on this trend • Increase the value of online research of our customer • Make good use of valuable Web real estate
  • Personally, I think it’s best to do it yourself. There are plenty of online resources that you can use to self-learn or appoint a point person in the companywho will learn the basics and teach others. There are no experts in the industry and those that are most likely aren’t consulting! You know your expertise, you know your industry, you know your customer and who you are selling to. What’s their to be afraid of? I’ve seen many blogs outsourced in our industry and they come across sounding generic and not the kind of stuff our TARGET wants to read or learn from. But you make the call.We chose to do itourselves. We know ourindustrywe are experts in ourfield.Advice: Start small. Don’ttry to go big and joinevery site out there. You need a focus. We chose our blog as our hub.Startedwith a small team of 4 (4 bloggersacrossour R&D, ProdMarketing and Support with 1 internal editor) aiming for 8 posts a monthacross the differentcompetencies
  • Before the theme is designed or the first word is written, corporate blog teams must lay out a robust argument for why the blog makes sense, for whom it is intended, how blog success will be measured, and by whom.”Got that? Set realistic goals and have realistic expectations before you start, or else you’ll end up with a ghost town.
  • Countless competitor blogs I have come across:SELF PROMOTIONDwindle out…Don’t’ fall into the ghost townQuickly joining every site out thereNobody learsnanyhting from sself promotional things…they are interested in only their self interestd
  • Countless competitor blogs I have come across:BEFORE STARTING:WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS???And once you realize that..everything becomes a LOT easier!
  • From our experience:Think of your intended audience. What will make them come back and share articles?Talking about yourself? Or empowering them to do more?Think about will eventually run out of things to say if you are constantly talking about yourself. There are countless amounts of B2B blogs out there doing this…MERGE WITH PREVIOUS SLIDEAdvice: Start small. Don’ttry to go big and joinevery site out there. You need a focus. We chose our blog as our hub.Startedwith a small team of 4 (4 bloggersacrossour R&D, ProdMarketing and Support with 1 internal editor) aiming for 8 posts a monthacross the differentcompetencies
  • Where do they hang out online? What sites do they interact with? How can you help them?Who are they? Enterprise ? Small bus? What do they care about?Where to start?It’seasy to thinkjointwitter, fb, respond on blogs etcetcWedecided to tackleit in phases of whichwe are still in the first 2..Interact on blogs, forums.Working on our blogContent is the key…What do they read? Blogs? Reviews? Publications?Who are they following and connecting to? Tech “Magazines”(companies/niche markets/communities Windows Magazines Security Magazines)Who is following them? What other people are following the same will be good indication of potential customers!What are they doing where? Where are they going?
  • Put out ourfeelers to seewhatourindustrywas up toCreated GOOGLE Alerts, Twitteralerts on ourproducts, co + those of ourcompetitorsStart by ListeningCompetitiveResearchshowed us thateitherourcompetitorswere not participating OR theyweresimplyusingit as anotherchannel to promotethemselves.(Blogs withPress Releases)As part of our new marketing strategy: Integrated, USER PROFILE. Whatdoesour USER want to read? WhatwillbenefitthemIDENTIFIED OUR GOAL: WHAT DID WE WANT TO DO?
  • Wellyou are in business becauseyou are providing a service right?In our case welookedatour User Profile X: who are weselllingourproduct to and what do THEY read. Whatwill cause them to read, share, comment?The challenge thateveryone faces.Provideyour team withUSER PROFILE/GOAL/CONTENT STRATEGYThese are criticalbeforeyouevendecide the where.Once you have the content youcanthendecide..Blogs are the single most important tool and if you are going to start anywhere with your social media strategy, start with a blog. Your blog is a way to showcase your expertise, and enhance your reputation as an authority in your niche. Your blog will serve as your hub and the center of your social media strategy and allow you to have content to syndicate on all the other platforms like Twitter and Facebook.What do I blog about?Clearly you are in business because you are providing a service or product that other people need or want. Blog about it!
  • Countless competitor blogs I have come across:Now you can decide where to use this content based on where your audience is: should it be twitter? Or is the blog sufficient for nowSome may prefer youtube etcBtu again don’t spread yourself too thin…this could be in Phase 2Divide & conquer your strategy in phaseslISTENING and observingEXECUTE small: adjust accordinglyAdd on more once your team feels comfortable..doing too much too fast will resutl in a FAST FAIL!Obviously you don’t want to repeat the same message everywhere but customers may be listening in different channels
  • Work in iterations.Start with a core teamAs they get comfortable generating content, explain SEO and how they can improveAppoint an editor, not everyonBe realistic. If you are starting a blog don’t overcommit yourself. Remember you want to maintain whatever you decide to start.Before going live create a backlog of articles to set the expectation. Celebrate milestones. We did an internal blog launch party where we officially launched the blog as only the core team was aware of it /look and feel etc.Stay agile. See what works and doesn’t work. Are your how to articles getting more traction? Adjust your schedule to reflect this. We noticed that our technical articles were getting more comments and visits. We narrowed our focus on those. Monitoring goes both ways…e is comfortable writing but everyone has ideas.
  • Sets the expectation bothexternally for yourreaders as well as internally for yourauthors. It doesn’t come as a surprise that a blog isexpected.Helpscloselymimic the real world newspaperexample.
  • Blogging, Tweeting, Whatever you choose to do should be considered an integrated part of your marketing strategy. Not something left on the side.For example, in a pull inbound model we are One piece of the puzzle in your marketing toolkit: alongside newslettersWe are creating content that Integrated: not just something on the side. Content that we create is used in our newsletters, webinars....we are researching ..forces us to stay disciplined and on top of the trends..Not stagnate.RESOURCESCONTENTINTEGRATED: create content thatcouldbeused in MANY channelsCreate content thatwas NOT about us but rathertips, tricks
  • What you measure will depend on your goals?
  • Expecting results after a short term investment is not realistic. It’s not a sprint but more like a marathon quote Gary VaynerchukYou have to be in it for the long run.After the core team weslowlystartedencouraging more employee participation. The emphasiswasthatwhetheryou are in R&D or Support, *everyone* in somewayis part of marketing. Overallcompany objective.Humans/Employeesneed structure..sure some of us can
  • Brings the companytogethertowards the common goalEveryone has somethingthey are working on togetherEvenour finance personwanted to write a blog post!Stayingmotivated..believeit or not the simple
  • Social Media and the Small Business

    1. 1. Social Media and the Small Business<br />@sandysidhu<br /><br />September 12, 2010<br />
    2. 2. Whystart?<br /><ul><li>People turn to the Web to search for products
    3. 3. Rely on reviews, comments, forums, blogs for input
    4. 4. When people search for your product/service they don’t only want to find your site.</li></li></ul><li>STATISTICS ARE MEANINGLESS<br />WITHOUT A STRATEGY<br />
    5. 5. GETTING STARTED<br /><ul><li>Identify your goals
    6. 6. What are you hoping to accomplish?
    7. 7. How much time are you willing to invest?
    8. 8. How will you measure success?
    9. 9. How long are you willing to try?</li></li></ul><li>DO IT YOURSELF or OUTSOURCE?<br /><br />
    10. 10. Why blogs (or any social media) fail<br /><ul><li>Lack of purpose
    11. 11. Not writing for your target audience
    12. 12. Blog/social media is an extra not as high priority as webinars, whitepapers, other marketing collateral
    13. 13. It’s NOT easy
    14. 14. Lack of ownership</li></li></ul><li>Common Mistakes<br /><ul><li>Lack of plan
    15. 15. Self-promoting: talking about your products all the time
    16. 16. Taking on too much: joining every possible site out there</li></li></ul><li>It’s not about you<br /><br />
    17. 17. How to Solve this?<br /><ul><li>Have a core team that is responsible for the blog/social media, it is NOT just a marketing thing but a ‘company’ thing
    18. 18. A leader/point person that will guide the team
    19. 19. Identify what your target audience will respond to</li></li></ul><li>Where to start?<br /><br />
    20. 20. Who is your customer? <br />
    21. 21.<br />
    22. 22. STRATEGY & APPROACH<br />Break it down into phases<br /><ul><li> Content creation
    23. 23. Focus on the ‘what’ you will take about, then the ‘where’
    24. 24. Align with your goals
    25. 25. Align with your target audience</li></li></ul><li>CONTENT STRATEGY<br />WHAT to talk about?<br /><ul><li>Tips, Tricks, How To’s
    26. 26. Case studies
    27. 27. Advice
    28. 28. Best Practices
    29. 29. Industry News</li></ul>Topics that will EDUCATE, ENRICH, ENGAGE your reader<br />
    30. 30. Blog? TwitTEr? FacebOOK?<br /><ul><li>Decide based on your target audience
    31. 31. Don’t try to do it all!
    32. 32. Divide into phases</li></li></ul><li>KEEP IT SIMPLE<br /><ul><li>Focus on Content
    33. 33. Have a core team-contributors, editor
    34. 34. SEO can be introduced gradually
    35. 35. Help with topic ideas
    36. 36. Be realistic: don’t over-commit yourself</li></li></ul><li>Set THE EXPECTATION<br /><ul><li>How oftenwillyou blog?
    37. 37. Whowill blog & when?
    38. 38. What type of content willbeproduced</li></li></ul><li>MARKETING<br />CAMPAIGNS<br />PPC<br />SOCIAL MEDIA<br />SEO<br />EMAIL MARKETING<br /><br />
    39. 39. Metrics metricsmetrics<br />Decide what is important and in line with your goal<br /><ul><li>Is it more meaningful site visits?
    40. 40. Getting more industry recognition?
    41. 41. Increased Sales…</li></li></ul><li>It’s not a sprint<br /><br />
    42. 42. INTERNAL: WINS<br /><ul><li>Cross companypartcipationincreasing
    43. 43. Workingtowards a common goal
    44. 44. HealthyCompetiton!
    45. 45. Proactivelycommenting on other blogs</li></li></ul><li>One Year Later<br /><ul><li>BloggerOutreach: Throughour blog we have builtrelationships
    46. 46. Trafficiscontinuouslygoing up
    47. 47. Sharing of content on competitors site/newsletters
    48. 48. Positive feedback fromcustomers, engagement</li></li></ul><li>Discussion Questions<br /><ul><li>Will your company be implementing social media as part of your marketing strategy?
    49. 49. How did you start? How do you plan on starting?
    50. 50. Is your company facing any challenges with their social media implementation?
    51. 51. How do/did you get buy-in from management?</li></li></ul><li>Sandy Sidhu<br />@sandysidhu<br /><br /><br />Montreal, Quebec, Canada<br />!<br />