When used properly social media can enhance small business outreach and can even increase sales.
Many small business owners have tried and failed to use social media and online advertising. Why? Honestly, it is less effective in some areas than most people think and most small business owners are too busy managing the business to learn how to run online campaigns properly.
In order to manage your social media you need to have time, expertise, aptitude, and you have to enjoy it. In a nutshell, if you are running your own business unless you have abundant amounts of time on your hands then hire someone with experience to manage your promotions for you.
So, you still want to manage your own online campaigns? OK. I have written a brief overview below to help you get started. The following information will:
- Give you a basic understanding of the social media landscape
- Enable you to hire the right person for the job
- Help you to manage your own social media marketing campaigns
Social Media Fundamentals
What is Social Media?
“Social media refer to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Furthermore, social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms via which individuals and communities share, cocreate, discuss, and modify user-generated content. It introduces substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities and individuals.“
Current Popular Social Media Applications
One other site that you should consider to build your business credentials is Quora.
“Quora boasts a slightly smaller user base than Twitter and Facebook with 1.1 million monthly users. But even though the network is smaller doesn’t mean you should balk at its marketing potential. If you’ve ever participated in Quora’s Q&A, you’ll know that the quality of questions asked and answers provided is extremely high. While Quora might not be the right network for your business as a major traffic driver considering the lower usage volume, it could be a great place to build your company’s authority and thought leadership, generating much higher quality leads (albeit at a lower volume) in the long run.”
Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33340/An-Introduction-to-7-of-the-Most-Popular-Social-Networks-for-Business.aspx#ixzz2MgKDNIKp
Brief Overview Popular Social Media Applications
“Facebook is a social networking service launched in February 2004, owned and operated by Facebook, Inc. As of September 2012, Facebook has over one billion active users, more than half of whom use Facebook on a mobile device.
Quantcast estimates Facebook has 138.9 million monthly unique U.S. visitors in May 2011. According to Social Media Today, in April 2010 an estimated 41.6% (129.5 million) of the U.S. population had a Facebook account. Nevertheless, Facebook’s market growth started to stall in some regions, with the site losing 7 million active users in the United States and Canada in May 2011.“
“The simple truth is that Facebook Pages are not being seen as often in the news feed.
Facebook reported that on average, brands reach about 16% of their fans in a typical week through posts. This news has many people wondering if Pages are still a worthwhile endeavor.”
Best usage in online outreach: Use Facebook to build your brand, help with search optimization and to manage local coupons and contests. Every small business should have a page on Facebook. Even though it may not be the best place to acquire new clients Facebook is excellent at reaching out to existing customers, enhancing your your brand recognition and increasing sales from your existing base. (specials, promotions). Facebook is especially effective at generating new sales for local bars.
Don’t post too often or it will be considered spam and you will actually lose friends and turn off followers. Make sure that your posts are relevant to the audience.
“Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140characters, known as “tweets“.
Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and by July, the social networking site was launched. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity, with over 500 million registered users as of 2012, generating over 340 million tweets daily and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day. Since its launch, Twitter has become one of the ten most visited websites on the Internet,”
Best usage in online outreach: Twitter is mostly a male audience and honestly is not as useful for local businesses. However, if you own a band, are a celebrity, or a company that provides services nationally (like online marketing) then Twitter may be a good bet for you. Twitter is also very useful to keep up with current trends in your field. Sign up and follow relevant and interesting feeds and get a lot of great information. Tweet regularly (at least daily).
This chart shows the average number of retailers followed by users on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. -Courtesy of http://www.steelhouse.com
“YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos. The company is based in San Bruno, California, and uses Adobe Flash Video and HTML5 technology to display a wide variety of user-generated video content, including movie clips, TV clips, and music videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos.”
Best usage in online outreach: 80% of those who view a product demonstration video make a purchase.
“If a picture is worth 1,000 words then video has the impact of 10,000 pictures.”
Richard Lewis, Augur Marketing
If you own a business and don’t have a product and / or informational video on YouTube then you need to. The top 3 searched sites in the United States in this order are:
85% of Americans consumers research online before they make a purchase (online retail, restaurants, anything). Very few people use a phone book any more so in order to be found you need to appear online at the top of searches and directories including YouTube.
- Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month
- Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
- 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
- 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
- YouTube is localized in 53 countries and across 61 languages
- In 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or around 140 views for every person on Earth
- Millions of subscriptions happen each day. Subscriptions allow you to connect with someone you’re interested in — whether it’s a friend, or the NBA — and keep up with their activity on the site
YouTube Partner Program
- Created in 2007, we now have more than a million creators from over 30 countries around the world earning money from their YouTube videos
According to Google, the idea is to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life. Essentially, the user experience is similar to that of Facebook (a news feed based on status updates and shared content, recommended friends, etc.), but the idea here is to make it easier to share content with specific sets of people (called Circles) instead of just publishing content on your wall for everyone to see.
Kristen Curtiss, ConstantContact blog
Google+ now has 400 million registered users, and more than 100 million active users visit the service every month.
According to Google+ statistics the user base is 69% male.
Best usage in online outreach: In my humble opinion, Google+ does not seem to be very effective at local business outreach. However, it is a great search optimizer. Once your organization is listed in Google+ it will appear quickly in Google (along with photos and video) and will help your online rankings.
Social media audience profiles. – These statistics were prepare by Augur Marketing staff.
LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE: LNKD) (pron.: /ˌlɪŋkt.ˈɪn/) is a social networking website for people in professional occupations. Founded in December 2002 and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. As of January 2013, LinkedIn reports more than 200 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories.
Best usage in online outreach: Every professional and business owner should be listed on LinkedIn. It is fantastic for business networking, job hunting, show casing your skills and business profile. It also provides a great advertising service which, like Facebook and Google allows you to be highly specific in your target(s) and segments.
If you manage a B2B service company then you should definitely utilize LinkedIn as part of your advertising strategy. I have seen the 10% rule mentioned frequently to determine advertising budgets for established companies. 10% of your income should be spent on new business development. I have also seen discussions on increasing that to 15 – 20% in a down economy. The theory being that it takes more effort to attract the same number of new clients.
Pinterest is similar to earlier social image bookmarking systems based on the same principle, such as David Galbraith’s 2005 project Wists. It allows users to save images and categorize them on different boards. They can follow other users’ boards if they have similar tastes. Popular categories are travel, cars, food, film, humor, home design, sports, fashion, and art.
In January 2012, comScore reported the site had 11.7 million unique users, making it the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark. Pinterest’s wide reach helped it achieve an average of 11 million visits each week in December 2011. Most of the site’s users are female.
According to Experian Hitwise, the site became the third largest social network in the United States in March 2012, behind Facebook and Twitter.
Pinterest users can upload, save, sort and manage images, known as pins, and other media content (i.e. videos) through collections known as pinboards. Pinboards are generally themed so that pins can easily be organized, categorized and discovered by other users. Pinterest acts as a personalized media platform, whereby your own content as well as anyone else’s uploaded pins can be browsed on the main page. Users can then save their favorite pins to one of their own boards using the “Pin It” button. Content can also be found outside of Pinterest and similarly uploaded to a board via the Pin It” button which can be downloaded to the bookmark bar on a web browser, or be implemented by a webmaster directly on the website.
Pinterest also allows businesses to create pages aimed at promoting their businesses online. Such pages can serve as a “virtual storefront”. In one case study of a fashion website, users visiting from Pinterest spent $180 compared with $85 spent from users coming from Facebook. These users spent less time on the company’s website, choosing instead to browse from the company’s pinboard. Further brand studies have continued to show Pinterest is more effective at driving sales than other forms of social media.
Best usage in online outreach: Pinterest is commonly used for wedding planning by the bride and is great for any service or product company related to weddings including caterers, wedding clothing boutiques, and event locations. Since the site is all about sharing images photographers, artists, models, fashion houses, and interior designers should definitely have a presence on Pinterest as well.
-This chart is courtesy of ROI Research, Inc
Hire the Right Person to Handle Social Media Marketing
That is a lot of information but once you know the tools it is much easier to plan your marketing strategy effectively. But, let’s say that you realize that you won’t have time to manage your advertising effort and want to hire a person or agency to handle the online outreach on your behalf. How do you hire the right team or person?
It is difficult to find the right person to manage social media for you for several reasons.
- Everyone wants to be a social media guru
- There are few if any standards or certifications
The following are tips to help you select the proper person for the job.
Questions to ask during the initial phone interview.
- Have you managed a successful online marketing campaign before? Describe the campaign. (Note any hesitation. There are a lot of ‘wanna bes’ and many people claim to know social media marketing when they do not.) Adding the word successful will help you to eliminate a large portion of the inexperienced potential hirees.
- Why was it (the campaign) successful and how did you measure success? Professionals and experienced campaign managers always measure the marketing outreach not only to determine what is working but for constant improvement as well. When an effort is not as successful as hoped then it needs to be adjusted or dropped. An experienced professional will ask you up front what the business goals are of the campaign and explain what the measurements for each goal are. For instance, number clicks on a link, number of opens on an email, coupons turned in, etc. You will also obviously be able to track increased sales and traffic as well.Number of ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ honestly does not matter in most cases. Be much more concerned with increased sales figures. Who cares if you have a million followers online if no one buys your products or services? This one point should eliminate a large portion of the posers. Many high school and college age students think that if they read one book and get you thousands of likes that they managed a successful campaign. This is absolutely not true unless you are a rock star in which case you probably already had thousands of online fans.
What you do want to hear from your future campaign manager is that the prospective person or agency has managed at least one successful campaign and the measurement for success met the business goals of the campaign which isn’t necessarily sales. I have managed successful campaigns where the goal was to remediate bad reviews and inaccurate information online or where I was attempting to land someone their own radio show. It is not always about the numbers.
Those were successful campaign which exactly and concisely achieved success. Preferably you hire a team (more resources are more likely to bring success as long as they are experienced). Just like any other work experienced professionals are more likely to bring you success.
Manage Your Own Online Campaign
If you are absolutely determined to manage your own online campaign the following is a basic overview that you can use as a template.
Who is your target market?
If you own a local restaurant the best target market are those who are within easy travel distance to your location. If you are in a business district then you definitely want to reach out to the professional lunch crowd. Are you a B2B service? Then your audience is much broader and you may even be able to advertise nationally.
How do you reach your target audience?
Which social media tools will work best for you? Re-read the sections above and think about who you want to reach and how to reach them. Local restaurants can use Facebook to bring in more traffic from existing customers. Bridal shops should be posting pictures on Pinterest. Business services agencies need to be listed in LinkedIn.
Once you know your target audience and have a presence online how are you going to drive traffic to your site or store and increase sales? B2B companies with a presence on LinkedIn and can use paid ads to develop more business. You can also join affiliate groups and become known as a local expert by leaving sage advice in blogs. If you do this be sure not to waste your time and energy. Only select the largest and most active groups. Be sure that your contact information is readily available so that those who saw your post can easily contact you.
Will highly targeted Facebook and GoogleAds paid promotions work for you? These work on a bidding system and and can pin point your target in a variety of ways depending on the site that you choose to buy advertising on. For more go to Google and type facebook advertising or google advertising into the search.
Good luck and I hope that this article was informative and helps you to create awareness, generate a buzz, and to increase sales for your organization. Go small business!
This article was written by Richard Lewis, President Augur Marketing