5 social media tips for small businesses
A couple of weeks ago, Chuck Soder with Crain’s Cleveland Business interviewed me for a story on how small businesses can leverage online tools. His article ran in today’s issue and mostly highlights how small businesses can use social media tools to build awareness that can lead to an increase in sales. Here’s an overview of five tips I shared about how small businesses can best use social media:
1.Listen to social media conversations – Determine what’s been said about your organization on which outlets and by whom online. To accomplish this task, you can use free tools like Google alerts and/or paid software by companies like Radian6.
2.Assess your in-house talent – Allocating resources toward social media efforts is a huge conundrum for companies of all sizes. If you have someone in-house who is familiar with and enthusiastic about social media, that’s definitely an advantage. If you don’t have an internal champion, then the best way to learn is to practice using social networks on a personal level.
3.Define your strategy and goals – Ultimately, the findings of your conversation audit will help narrow down which social networks you should be participating in (if at all), who you should be targeting (as potential audiences and influencers) and what you should be saying.
Here’s a great article that came out from Harvard Business Review that highlights four distinct types of social media strategies for businesses. For example, maybe your strategy revolves around adding an arm to your existing customer service model to reduce online complaints. (Read about D&E's social media strategic process here.)
4.Engage – It’s imperative for small businesses to prioritize and match their level of engagement with their allocated resources (staff, budget, etc.). Recognize what types of outreach will make the biggest impact based on effort required. For example, writing a blog requires more investment than just writing a post. You’ll need to comment on other blogs, promote what you wrote, etc.
Many small businesses have found success with tapping into social media influencer networks. Fore example, opening a retail store? Give local lifestyle bloggers VIP access to build word-of-mouth excitement.
5.Measure and refine – Benchmark your efforts so you can measure the progress and success of your social media efforts and track what impact they have on sales.