Social Media Marketing Tips for Frustrated Small Business Owners

Are your social media marketing efforts bringing you the results you want?

Do you even KNOW what results you want?

That’s a rather important first step, I’ve learned. When I took an intensive one-day continuing education course on social media for small business a year ago, I must confess to having been completely overwhelmed several times throughout the day. I wasn’t the only one.

To many of us, social media is daunting. It’s one thing to post a cute photo of me and my dog on Facebook. It’s quite another to learn how to use social media as an effective marketing tool that will lead to results – but that doesn’t require an enormous amount of time, energy and money.

Once I determined the results I was looking for – new readers and ultimately, more book sales – I had to ask myself the next obvious question: was posting my dog’s photo on Facebook going to achieve that?

Er… no. At least not directly.

Okay, then how about my tendency to write and post blogs that only a handful of people – the vast majority of whom have already bought my book – will read: is that going to yield more book sales?

You get my drift.

That’s why I took the class. And frankly, sitting in a computer lab for 8 hours, learning about SEO and hashtags, tribes and Google analytics wasn’t just overwhelming, it was exhausting.

Another, ahem, middle-aged writer in the class put it perfectly when she said to our 20-something instructor: “You are a social media native. We are social media immigrants. We’re still learning the language, the culture, the lay of the land… and to be honest, it’s not only frustrating and confusing – most of us don’t even want to be here! We’re here because we have to be. We know we have to learn this so our businesses can survive.”

Here, here!

And even though I didn’t understand half of what the instructor was saying – while patiently showing us on the overhead screens – I dutifully took detailed notes and crossed my fingers they might make more sense later on.

And sure enough, something interesting happened on the drive home. All that the instructor had said started to click into place… as it related to my company.

By the time I got home, I’d stopped perceiving social media networking as yet another ‘marketing thing’ I had to figure out and conquer because I needed the sales – and instead started to view it as an incredibly useful tool that, when used correctly, would help me reach new people who wanted to hear from me.

In other words, the internal barriers I had towards social media started to dissipate.

When I got home, I read through all my notes and highlighted the key points. Then I set a clear, tangible goal of what I wanted to achieve through my social networking efforts (number of website visitors who actually spent time reading my blogs). Then I determined exactly which social media platforms I was going to use and how. Then I made a SHORT list of the tasks I needed to do and when I was going to do them over the next six weeks.

And since the best way to learn something new is to teach it to someone else, I jotted down a few pointers from the course for other small business owners out there who might also be stumbling – frustrated and confused – through the cyber-wilderness called social media.

10 social media marketing tips for the not-so-techno-savvy small business owner:

1. You have to determine what results you want to achieve from your social networking efforts. Increased visitors to your website? Increased product or service sales? Increased number of subscribers to your e-zine?

2. You need to figure out who your market/s is. Then you need to find your market… your peeps, your tribes.

3. You will need to do a bit of trial and error to determine which social media platform/s is best for you to connect with your tribes: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. You don’t need to do them all – and I suggest you don’t even try.

4. Facebook is excellent for connecting with friends and maintaining relationships. In my case, as a writer it is a great way to share snapshots of my life – but not necessarily my writing.

5. Twitter is great for connecting with like-minded people you don’t know. Twitter is a fantastic way to build a buzz about your business or product. Twitter is where I am really starting to see some action, at least in terms of increasing the number of visitors to my website. But this only started to happen once I began using hashtags.

6. Hashtags are really important to use in your tweets because they help target who will see your posts. Hashtags are all about the use of key words that pinpoint your subject matter.

For example, since my book is about grief, I often use #grief when tweeting about the book. And low and behold, Twitter users who are looking for content about grief can find my tweet. So be sure to do a hashtag search first to ensure you are using the correct word/term to reach the people you want to reach.

7. Retweet other people’s tweets! And don’t be afraid to favourite someone else’s tweet now and then, either. Social media is social – it’s not just about you.

8. LinkedIn is not a sales platform (oops). LinkedIn is about connecting to like-minded professionals. It’s a great place to learn about what the people in your industry are up to and to share ideas, job postings, etc. I am also finding that it’s a great way to get readers to visit my website to read my blogs – but ONLY if I take the time to write a brief catchy blurb about the blog (using key words), that will actually catch their attention.

9. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is basically just the key words you need to use in your blog posts, article titles, web pages, tweets, etc so that search engines can find them. Here’s a quick trick to see how search engine optimized you are: Google the key words that pertain to your business and see if you or your business comes anywhere near the first page of rankings (which is where you want to be).

10. Google Analytics tracks your social marketing efforts. You set this up on your website and then you can see who is visiting your site, how long they are staying, which pages they are visiting, where they’ve come from, etc. This is very important because if you don’t know what is working and what isn’t, you won’t be able to tweak your efforts accordingly.

In my experience, using social media to effectively market one’s small business, products and services does take time and effort to figure out.

But once I shifted my attitude from feeling that I had to learn about it to an attitude of embracing the incredible opportunities that social media can offer, I began to realize that as a writer, social media means I can reach far more readers than I could twenty years ago. And I am seeing significantly more visitors to my website… and yes, they are even taking time to read my blogs.

Social Media Marketing – Three Tips To Get Your Business Started With Social Media

Know your strategy and understand what you wish to accomplish on social media (SM). I’m sure you’ve heard all the things out there that say,”social media is just a waste of time”. Well, guess what, it can be if you let it. When you have a strategy to get started with SM you will be starting down the path of success. Questions you can ask yourself that will assist…

1. Do you know what people are saying about you online? When you have profiles on the various social media platforms you are able to see who is talking about you, what they are saying and whether or not it’s good. Your SM profiles give you a way to find out, see what’s happening and see what’s going on in reference to you and your business

2. What is it that you’re trying to achieve? Your overall business and brand strategy needs to be thought out before you get online. Once done, you will easily be able to decide where you’ll be able to add value to your business. If you have a brick and mortar business, the methods to add value are different than someone who has an online business.

For my business it doesn’t matter whether you live in Canada, the United States, Australia, or England because a lot of business can be done online.

3. You need to be able to measure whether or not it’s working. The measurement techniques with social media are going to be a little different because you’re not always going to be able to count widgets or people. Sometimes you are going to have to find different methods of measuring. Experimenting with SM is important for your own health and the health of your business.

There are so many different options out there with social media, and knowing what tactics are actually going to help you achieve what you want is pretty critical. That’s one of the reasons it’s a really good idea to engage a social media strategist before you get started.

You need to be able to track and measure your impact. It doesn’t make sense to track how many Twitter followers you have if you’re not getting any results from Twitter. It doesn’t make sense to track how many people “like” your Facebook Page if you aren’t engaging them. You want them to come back, check things out and interact.

Make sure that you understand what you want to get out of social media, because yes, it really can take a lot of your time if you let it. When you know what you’re doing, you have a strategy, you adapt that strategy on a regular basis, you’re going to have success. You’ll be able to do it in a fairly short amount of time per day.

Social Media Marketing Firms – How They Can Make Your Business A Success

Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn among others have literally transformed from simple social network sites to major business/product/service marketing platforms. This is simply because of the large number of users accessing the sites on a daily basis. Like with any other marketing process, social marketing is a process that businesses/marketers employ to attract attention or gain traffic to their traditional business websites.

A common feature of social marketing is creation of relevant content that not only attracts but also encourages social networking users to share the same with their social networks. As users share content, a business/marketer gains what is referred to as “earned media” instead of “paid media”. Transformation of social networking sites to business marketing platforms has made it possible for a good number of firms to specialize in social media marketing, offering their services to millions of small, medium-sized and large businesses across the world.

There are several ways through which social media marketing firms can make your business a success story.

Business Reputation

Just in the same way that you strive to gain good reputation among your local clients, it is also very important that you have the same with social networking users. This makes it necessary to know what the users say about your business/product. A dedicated social media marketing firm will normally have what is referred to as Client Centre, a nerve centre that gives you information regarding what is said about your business/product on social media sites. A firm will normally gives you access to the centre with valuable reputation management tools for your own use.

Monitoring/Reports

Monitoring the performance of your marketing campaigns on social media sites can be a big challenge considering the fact that you need to focus on your business. Monitoring and reporting is one of the most important services that a social media marketing firm will provide you. A dedicated firm will continuously monitor the performance of your marketing campaign and report to you what is good about it and in case of poor performance, advise you on what needs to be done to improve the campaign.

Customized Marketing Campaign

Engaging the service of a social media marketing firm can be of great benefit when it comes to directing your campaign to a specific population in a geographic area. Although you may manage to gain a huge following on social media sites out of your own efforts, driving them to your traditional business website can be very difficult. A social media marketing firm will go the extra mile to keep your followers engaged through updated and encouraging content to attract them to your website.

Regardless of how small your business may be, having a presence on social networking sites is something you cannot ignore when you need to expand your business. However, engaging a social media marketing firm for the purpose of marketing your business on social networking platforms requires that you research carefully to identify a reputable firm that will take your business to the next level.

7 Business Development Marketing Tips For Social Media

You would have heard so many marketing experts telling everyone to use social media as part of their promotional marketing mix. The Internet is flooded with information on using Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. Numerous articles have been written on how using social media can help promote your brand image and how it can generate web traffic for your main business website.

Keep in mind that that social networking is a marketing tool and it is only effective when used properly to promote your business.

The key question for a business is “How is social media harnessed to generate real revenue and customers?” In today’s digitally connected society your customers regardless of their age, gender or economic status will be active on social networking sites.

Here are some of the latest usage statistics on social media use that will make a business take notice:

  • 68% of small businesses will increase their social networking marketing efforts in the next year
  • 56% of Twitter users say they use the micro blogging site for business or work related purposes
  • Over 40% of people have become ‘friends’ with or ‘like’ a brand/company on Facebook or MySpace
  • 20% of tweets are about business products
  • 46% of Facebook users say they would talk about or recommend a product on Facebook
  • 44% of Twitter users have recommended a product
  • Social media played a major role in holiday shopping – 28% of shoppers say social media has influenced their purchases

On the Facebook site alone:

  • More than 400 million active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • There are over 160 million pages, groups and events that people interact with
  • Average user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events
  • Average user creates 70 pieces of content each month
  • Males and females almost equally use social sites (47% vs. 53%)
  • 61% of Facebook users are middle aged or older, with the average age being 37
  • 18- to 24-year-olds don’t dominate any particular social networking site; they’re spread out all over
  • More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month

The participation of your business in social networking should be self-evident, however, many businesses will go on to set-up social media sites and make no effort to participate and engage in the groups that their potential customers use.

To be successful in using social networking your business must find out where your potential customers spend time on these sites so that you can engage with them where they prefer and not where you prefer or are comfortable with. Participation and engagement with their social networks will form a platform from which to build relationships with communities of interest. This in turn will provide a new customer acquisition channel using the share and like capabilities of the social networking world. This “sharing” is the equivalent of word of mouth in traditional marketing.

Here are the 7 Business Development Marketing Tips for using Social Media:

1. Go where your customers are and not where you are comfortable

To find your customers on social networking sites consider the following:

  • Conduct a survey among your customers or potential customers.
  • Analyse and monitor traffic on social sites to discover how and where customers are sharing information about your business and your competitors.
  • Review marketing research or statistical information on the usage and demographics of the different social media sites.

2. Engage and interact

Social-media engagement is a conversation and your participation in the social network groups and communities is core to building relationships. Your value as a participant is judged by the value that you provide to the community as a whole. You can achieve this by freely sharing relevant, interesting and useful information

3. Research your competitors’ activities

You need to gather competitive information that can help your efforts. Conduct a competitive analysis of your top five competitors’ use of social media for the following:

  • The social networking sites that they actively participate
  • The type of content they publish
  • The number and type of followers, fans and views
  • The products, programs or events promoted

4. Release offers and programs that are exclusive to your social networking channels

You must give importance to your social media with exclusive offers for these promotional channels. This will entice potential customers to share with their networks the offer that is not available from other marketing channels.

As an example, provide offer an exclusive offer for your social media channel, such as discount coupon or voucher.

5. Social media participation requires authenticity and transparency

The words “authenticity” and “transparency” are a bit overused today, however, these are cornerstones to be successful with social networking. Be a real human being in your interactions. This is the foundation to build trust and connections with real people on social media groups and networks.

6. Look for value opportunities in selling through social networking

Take the opportunity to leverage social media in selling your products and/or services by offering relevant items that are of value to your followers. Make it easy for them to make the purchase from these social media channels.

7. Always test and refine based on results generated

Social media programs as a marketing channel are not exempt from testing and refining your messages and offers. You must make the effort to test, gather results and analyse how it can be improved before launching the program to the entire channel.

Apply these 7 Marketing Tips for using Social Media to give you the foundation for success building and growing your business using these communication channels.