Quick and Dirty Guide to Marketing with Social Media: 6 Steps to Getting Started

» Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Business Strategy, Facebook, Marketing | 0 comments

Quick and Dirty Guide to Marketing with Social Media: 6 Steps to Getting Started

I recently gave a talk at a meeting of small business owners– and promised a blog post on this portion.

Our business name says it all: we’re “Spalding Barker Strategies” because we believe that your marketing efforts should start with strategy: a carefully considered plan of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.  When it comes to social media, it’s important to use a strategy to ensure that you haven’t left out important elements, and that you’re getting the most results from your efforts.  Set realistic goals: social media is about planting fruit trees, not buying lottery tickets.  In other words, it’s a long term strategic play.

Here’s an outline to use as a starting point:

Spalding Barker’s Quick and Dirty Guide (for the small business.)

1)       Monitor your Brand

2)       Set a Policy

3)       Build a Blog – help customers find you

4)       Find out Where your customers are – and go there

5)       Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Content)

6)       Use the Power of the Group

Monitor Your Brand:  Just because you aren’t engaging with social media, doesn’t mean your company can’t be found there.  Remember the old statistic about customer service, which says that a happy customer will tell one person but an unhappy customer will tell eight?  It’s wrong.  In the days of YouTube and Facebook, and unhappy customer can tell a million people.  If you are not monitoring your brand to see when it is mentioned, you will not be able to respond to a situation before it gets out of control.

Monitoring your brand can be as complex as building an aggregator page to search for mentions of your company name across media channels, or as simple as typing your company name into Google every few days to see what comes up.

Set a Policy: This is a basic for the small business owner.  Decide on a social media policy, and communicate with your employees.  There are several different approaches that you can take: from “never mention our company name on your personal social media accounts” to “mention us with links to our main site.”  Both are reasonable, depending upon your business.  The point is to think carefully about what will work for you, and to communicate it clearly with your employees.

Build a Blog: We recommend that social media efforts start with a blog.  There are several reasons for this.  Most small businesses use their primary website as a way of giving their contact and product information to their customer base.  Building a blog allows you to provide searchable articles of interest to your customer base – giving them more ways to stumble upon your website.  For example, my own blog features articles on “Google Privacy Features.”  Searching the web for information on “Google Privacy” might provide a way for a stranger to find my website.

Think about what your customer worries about – those things related to your business, and those things unrelated.  For example, a local business providing childcare might write a blog article about 5 kid-friendly local restaurants.  Parents searching for “Kid Friendly Restaurants in X Location” might find the business website that way.

Find Out Where Your Customers Are: No small business owner has the time and energy to maintain five or six different social media channels.  So start small – find out what most of your customers are using and go there.  You don’t have to hire Arthur Anderson for this – just ask!  Put a small survey by the register, or print it across the bottom of your receipts.  You’ll get enough information to have a good idea of where your efforts will have the most value.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (Content):  One of the reasons that we suggest you start with a blog is because it is so easy to reuse blog content on a Facebook page or Twitter account.  Most blogging software provides an automatic link that will do it for you.  See our other posts here and here for more ideas on what to post on your social media channels.  It’s easier than you think to provide content.

Use the Power of the Group: Cross market.  Social media makes it easy, fast, and inexpensive to leverage the power of your network.  Choose a business partner and go for it.  Own a hair salon?  Connect with the local florist to offer a prom deal.  Dance studio offering kids parties?  Connect with a bakery for a cake deal.  All you have to do is create a printable coupon.  Each business posts it on their channel and – voila!  You’ve each doubled your audience by sharing followers.

Finally, we add the following two comments on potential pitfalls: First, Don’t Worry About It.  When presented with a blog, the small business owner frequently gets nervous about the writing aspect and lets it fail.  Don’t worry about it!  You don’t have to be Shakespeare.  You know your business better than anyone else.  You understand your customer’s problems, and the things they worry about.  Are you in real estate?  Write about moving and packing hassles.  Finding new doctors in a new community.  Evaluating schools.  Anything – the point is that you are the expert, and you should trust yourself.  If you are capable of running a small business, you have more than you need of the skills required to write a couple of paragraphs on the subjects you know best.  Try this trick: imagine sitting down with a cup of coffee, and an old customer who is a family friend.  They ask a question, and you answer it.  Write it down just as you would explain it to them while chatting.

Secondly: Don’t worry about it – but don’t pass it off.  Passing social media off to the youngest staff member is a common error.  On the surface, it makes sense.  You see that person on their cell phone all the time – they know what a tweet is, they can quote 10 minutes of DWTS dialogue using only 10 keys and two thumbs, they have 800 Facebook friends of their own.  True, they understand the tools; but do they understand how to represent your business?

The tools are not complicated.  Whatever software you use now for inventory, payroll, or invoicing is certainly more complex than the consumer-oriented Facebook, Twitter, or blogging software.  You can learn the tools easily.  If you wouldn’t let someone meet and greet your most important customer or prospect, don’t let them manage your social media presence.

Social media has benefits of timing, cost, and ease of use.  Make good use of it and your business will increase with minimal effort.  But start with a good strategy, to make the most of your time and financial investment.

To learn more about Spalding Barker Strategies, visit our homepage or Contact Us to see how we can help your business.

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