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Social Media for Small Business: 5 Things to Do Right Now

ROI of social media Social networking is not a fad that is going to "go away." I remember this same feeling when the Internet became popular and businesses questioned the need to have a website. It's a simple truth: Businesses without websites are not seen as legitimate by some consumers. It will take a few years, but increasingly, business without a social media presence will be viewed the same way. Negatively.

Where does a small business start? It can be overwhelming, I know. I've worked with small businesses who are struggling to find the reasons, the time and the right employee to help them with social media. Here are five things you should start with:

1. Get on board yourself. You can't even HOPE to understand the connectivity of social networking unless you practice yourself. Setting up profiles is NOT good enough. You must sit down for at least 10 minutes a day and practice using it. Frankly, I am so sick of hearing how social media is a waste of time from people who have never used it.

2. Start listening to conversations, aka "Lurking." Or hire someone to do it for you. Listening consists of:

  • Searching for keywords on social sites and Google
  • Paying attention to what people are saying in your social stream (for example, your friends' posts on Facebook and Twitter)
  • Observing complaints, trends and positive recommendations

After gathering some intelligence, don't be afraid to act on it. Follow up with a dissatisfied customer, fix that leaky restroom people have been complaining about, offer a Tuesday night kids-eat-free special. People will tell you what's on their mind.

3. Post articles, videos and photos on your personal and business networks. As a general rule of thumb, make sure it's something that your spouse, mother and boss would be comfortable with. If it's questionable, don't share it.

4. Formulate a strategy and objectives: Just like any other form of marketing or PR, doing social media without thinking about why you're doing it guarantees disappointment in the results. Make your initial objectives modest. Here are a few examples:

  • Increase awareness of my business with (xyz) audience, by having at least 3 conversations per week with someone who didn't know about it before.
  • Inform my audience what my business offers, as measured by people stopping in the store or visiting the company website. Segmentation is possible if you talk about certain products and then measure the interest in purchases or web hits. For example: If you talk about Widget A for three days this week and Widget B for three days next week, check to see if visits to your website have increased accordingly. Obviously, you'll want to include links to Widget A and Widget B so people have the opportunity to learn more.

5. Try new things, but give it time to succeed before you give up. For example, offer a 20% discount on merchandise and services to Facebook customers, but you've got to offer it every week, repeatedly, week after week, to allow people to notice and take advantage of the deal. Just because no one uses your discount the first week doesn't mean it's a failure. It probably just means people haven't seen it yet.

The "ROI" (return on investment) of using social media is keeping your business relevant in the future. Here is a great video that illustrates some of the statistics regarding social media use that clearly show it's here to stay and worth knowing how to use properly.

What are your major social networking sticking points? I'd love to write future posts to address your questions. Here is the latest Eric Qualmann Social Media Revolution video. I listen to them as much for the music as the content! Enjoy.



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