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I was recently interviewed for a magazine article  on social media and small business. In the interview, I was asked to provide a concise listing of the benefits of social media for small business. I liked my response, and wanted to share some of my ideas with you here.

(If you’re interested in reading the article when it’s published, I’ll also let you know about that, too! 🙂

The way I see social media, it is more than a fad. It is, actually, a key disruptor of traditional marketing and advertising, and the disruption is going to get worse.

Even though the main social media sites are growing, there is still some confusion about how best to take part in the social media space.

Some ideas I have about this:

1) Every business needs an intelligent social media strategy.
Intelligent social media strategy means a strategy which links business objectives to social media marketing goals. It also refers to the idea that your social media toolset should be aligned with the outcomes you seek. While it’s easy to get seduced by having hundreds of friends on Facebook, if none of them represent your business target market or target group, your results won’t be that positive. I want to stress that it is not about your popularity. It is about profitable popularity if you are using social media for business.

2) Build your strategy first, and then select your tools.
I referenced this on an earlier post on social media strategy, but want to bring this up again. Don’t get started on the social media sites until you’ve outlined your goals and set up metrics to measure your outcomes. Skip this step, and you risk wasting a lot of time and resources for little return. Monitor your return at least once a month, so you know if your effort is worth it for your business.

3) Use social media to reduce lead generation costs.
One of the best ways to use social media for small business is to take advantage of the ease of content syndication, and share your content and information as widely and generously as possible. Create multiple marketing touchpoints so that you can create top of mind awareness. You want to build your own community of raving fans and be their first choice of provider when they need what you sell.

4) Right-size your social media approach.
I want to devote another blog post to this topic, but let me mention it here. The concept of “right sizing” your social media approach means that you invest in social media at the level commensurate to the business you can actually deliver on. This means, if you are a local business with just one location, and you can’t deliver services or products outside of your immediate location (whether due to costs, licensing, etc.), you do not need as large or as robust a social media strategy as a company with multiple locations which can fulfill orders nationally or internationally. Don’t be seduced into spending a lot on broad based social media efforts if you don’t have a business model which can profit from it.

5) Use social media to drive branding and awareness.
One of the best ways to use social media is as a method to “get your business on the map”- which means, essentially, that you use it to raise awareness of your business and what you offer. You do this primarily by sharing what interests you, and by using a soft selling approach. You share content and information which engages, informs, and inspires, and then make an offer of how a person can learn more. For those selling services, you are best served to use social media as a step one lead generation tool, and still expect that people won’t purchase until they have a chance to know you better. For a lower investment product, you may be able to convert them more easily. You can use social media to drive social proof, which can also shorten your sales cycle or convince people they should do business with you.

By understanding your own business goals for social media, and approaching this like any other form of marketing, you will position your business for profit.

Though just a few years old, social media is changing. Learn more about the Future of Social Media