I think most small business owners are wary of investing time in social media (Facebook, twitter, blogging, etc.) because they think you have to be a “big name” to generate a splash. It’s not true! A small company can have a big impact.
If you have the right approach, and you engage people in a targeted way, you can see real-life return on your virtual investment. We talked about cross-promotion a couple of days ago, and I’d like to go into some more detail.
Go where the people are!
Look at your company’s Facebook page – it tells you what other pages your fans like. Engage with those networks as well – post comments (as your company) on other walls or pages. This keeps your content fresh and spreads your circle of influence. Think about a Venn Diagram (overlapping circles) – your page lies in the overlap, where fans of one thing and fans of another thing come together over your thing. Branch out and explore the larger circles! **Remember: real-life places (like hosting an in-store event, like a taste-test, trunk show, or demo) are great sources for names to add to your mailing list! Have a signup sheet at the door so you can add people to your email newsletter or invite them to looka t your Facebook page.**
Have a purpose!
What would you like to achieve with social media interaction? Do you just want people to know more about your business? Or are you trying to get more bodies in the door? Take some time to really develop an objective, and you can plan your campaign around that. It’s good to focus all your content (Facebook status, twitter feed, blog entries, etc.) around the qualities that make your brand unique. Maybe your core value is “old-school craftsmanship”: use Twitter to share links to sites that demonstrate what “craftsmanship” is, devote a blog entry to discussing why hand-made objects are better than factory-made, or start a discussion thread on Facebook asking your customers to contribute their thoughts. Keep an open, multidimensional, dynamic dialogue happening.
Keep it real!
Every time someone posts a comment about your company, or replies to a tweet, respond to them! And don’t use your sales pitch language – make it personal and genuine. Even if the feedback is negative, deal with it professionally and publicly. Problems that are resolved in the public forum make a larger impression than issues that are ignored or swept under the rug. Embracing failures and celebrating successes, while interacting in a direct way with your target market, is what will set your business apart from the competition. Customers will know that you’re accessible – and you’ll be the first source they think of when a need for your product/service arises.
Are you noticing a trend here? It’s all about the user. These days, most people expect your business to have an online presence so they can research your company without ever having to pick up a phone. Be sure all your pertinent information is out there for people to see and share, and that you’re a constant presence they can find easily.