If you are on Facebook or other social networking sites, advice on social media marketing is quite overwhelming, especially for everyday small business owners. What is right for an Internet Marketer is not the best strategy for a guy who owns a pizza parlor. However, social media marketing is powerful and has great advantages.
The biggest advantage for a regular Joe or Jane with a business is that social media gives you free advertising. That’s huge! Old school advertising in print newspapers, phone books and even brochures go straight in the trash unless viewed online.
Keep it simple sweetie (KISS) but make sure you don’t find a reason not to use it. People are not exactly walking through the doors of businesses these days unless they have a good reason to. The most important elements you need are:
You must have a place to call home on the Internet. It’s where you invite people to come for coffee, in a sense, without really drinking it. Make your site inviting and interactive. Create your website on WordPress. End of story. It’s just better, less expensive and you have control.
Whether you have a personal profile, a business page or both, depends on your individual business and personality. If you aren’t on Facebook, you should be. Of all the social networks, most people interact on Facebook, especially small business owners. Internet Marketers and movie stars may be twittering away, but just about everyone else regularly checks in on Facebook. Important: Quit being so paranoid about people invading your privacy. Open your profile up so people can see what you are about. Getting a friend request from someone who won’t even let you see their wall doesn’t get much, if any of a response. Usually, that type of profile gets the ignore button. In my case, I separate friends into lists and those I know nothing about go into the Everybody Else list. You never know. They could be interesting.
If you have a personal profile, create lists so that you can view your feed with similar friends. You may have a family list, your high school friends, your networking friends, etc. If you do not want to mix your real friends with your business, create a business page. Unless you are wildly popular, you are not going to get to 5,000 personal friends right away, and unless you have some unruly true friends, then a profile is okay for certain people, such as work at home types, or various and sundry entrepreneurs.
If you have a pizza parlor, or other brick and mortar establishment you definitely want a business page. Be careful what type of page you choose. Do not pick a community page. You do not want Facebook controlling it. Create a page based on what type of business you own and LINK IT to your personal profile at the top of your page.
Google + 1 is coming on pretty strong. (unlike its 2 previous bombed efforts) Be connected to Google in every way that is relevant to your business. Gmail. (easy to use on a smart phone) Personal Profile (MUST HAVE). Google Places if you have an established business. Calendar is also easy to integrate with your smart phone. I personally love IGoogle for reading RSS feeds of other blogs because of it’s layout, plus it has a plethora of cool gadgets. You can create your own personal online magazine instead of reading all the hype that is in Google News. You will need Google for many services if you have a WordPress blog. Even if you do not use gmail, get an account anyway.
Other Social Networks
Social networking is personality driven. Not everyone gets or needs Linked In, Twitter, or the hundreds of others out there. They will help you drive traffic to your blog, but if you sign up and do not use them, because you’re overwhelmed, stick with Facebook.
Do you need 100,000 Twitter Followers?
Unless you are an Internet Marketer or your business is global, honestly you don’t. If you like Twitter, a focused smaller group is much easier to manage and connect with. Hootsuite makes organizing your Twitter and other Social media accounts easy. There are so many twitter tools available you can get Twitterpated. Get into or create lists of people you want to follow for advice and use keywords to find those who could be potential clients.
Restaurants are now using Twitter to make reservations. It all depends on your clientele. If you have younger clients, you may get some play using Twitter. If not, you probably won’t unless your target client is social media savvy.
Making Your Strategy Work
You can set up a blog and all your social networking profiles with no results. The reason: You aren’t participating.
Plan to blog at least once per week. It doesn’t have to be a long post. Shoot for at least 300 words. Fill your post with valuable information geared toward your ideal clients and do not try to sell. Would you invite someone to dinner and then try to charge them for it? I hope not. When they are ready to purchase, send them to a separate squeeze or buy page. (preferably from your mailing list that you have captured from your blog)
Check in with Facebook and update your status at least once a day. Send out a business page update only 1 to 2 times per week. When you send an update it goes into your followers email. If you deluge their inbox with too much stuff, they will un-LIKE you. Make sure to post your blog posts to either your Facebook page or personal profile. Do this manually so you can include a personal call to action, rather than auto posting, or set up an RSS feed on your page using an app like Social RSS or Networked Blogs. (Facebook apps)
Make sure you have sharing and commenting plugged into your blog. Turning off comments means you are basically playing with yourself. Not a pretty picture. Install or have someone insert a Facebook Like Button, Tweet Button and Google +1 button into your posts. Other sharing buttons will probably not get used unless your audience is a bunch of Internet geeks. Like I said before. Keep it Simple Sweetie.
What has been your most successful strategy for building your small business using Social Media? Feel free to comment (we use Comment Luv) and Tweet-Share this post.