In 2011, I met with many small business owners and assisted them in creating Facebook pages for their businesses or helped them claim their venues in FourSquare or in Google Places. In order to build on this for 2012, small business owners need to leverage these social media tools and make them a part of their daily operations.
This is my 5 Step plan for Social Media Success in 2012.
1. Create your Social Media Brand. Encourage your followers to interact with you through questions, polls, and contests. Make your customers feel as if they are part of your business decision making process. By getting your customers involved, it will increase their loyalty to your business and it’s more likely they will promote you through reviews and recommendations on other social media sites.
2. Make Mobile Marketing Work for You. Smart phones have revolutionized the way people and businesses interact. These days before I make purchasing decisions, I can consult with friends and get instant replies; QR codes and bar code scanning help me find the best price while I’m shopping; and apps like FourSquare notify me of specials at nearby businesses. For 2012, make sure your business is listed on Google Maps, as 80% of Google searches are location based (ie: toy store Scranton, PA ) .
3. Offer Valuable Content. Stop thinking like a business owner and start thinking like your customers. What would you want to see on a website, blog, or Facebook page to make you keep coming back? Offer content that adds value, such as coupons, discounts, advice, etc., and make sure your customers know that it’s your business providing the information. If it’s valuable enough, your customers will share it with their friends and help spread your marketing message. Any content provided on your blog and/or website should be rich with keywords and phrases that search engines will use to distinguish you from your competitors.
4. Use Video to Get the Word Out. The second largest search engine after Google is YouTube, however it is totally underutilized as a business tool. What better way to offer valuable content than through the use of short videos. Today you can create a short, good quality video, and in seconds you can upload that video to YouTube. There are many video production companies who can assist you in this process, or if your budget is tight, you can create a short video with a smart phone. From there you can use other social media tools such as your blog, Facebook and/or Twitter pages to share that video with your customers and potential customers. There are currently over 40 million how-to videos on YouTube. Take the opportunity to show your customers what makes your product or service better than the rest. Or ask your customers questions and have them reply via video. The possibilities are endless.
5. Create a Social Media Marketing Plan. It’s Worth your Time. All of these suggestions sound like a good idea, but who has the time? I hear all the time that entrepreneurs are so busy dealing with the day-to-day operations of their business and they don’t have time to “be playing” on Facebook, etc. Creating a social media marketing plan and taking advantage of tools that allow you to cross-post to different social media applications, and/or schedule posts for a later time make using Social Media much less time consuming and more beneficial to your business. Let’s face it … Facebook has over 800 million people using it, and over 50% of them use it every day. If your business is always looking for new customers… guess what? They are on Facebook! It’s also only a matter of time until platforms like Facebook offer businesses the opportunity to incorporate e-commerce, allowing people to purchase product from their business pages. Will your business be ready when that happens?
If you need assistance in making Social Media or Internet Marketing work for your small business, contact The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center for free and confidential guidance to help your business move forward in 2012.
Keith D. Yurgosky
Manager of Internet Business
University of Scranton SBDC