Small business companies are trying to make sense of social media and online marketing trends that appeals to the consumer in different faucets. This whole “FackTwitLink” craze has generated a hot bed of marketing tactics that could help bring good business to great business in a matter of no time.
There are many questions that need answers to suitably help the old fashion small business owners:
– ”Would developing a strategy first before engaging be effective?”
– “How have you incorporated social media into your business processes?”
– “What are you doing to create more sustainable social participation within your organization?”
Developing a contingent and supple strategy that considers business goals and the people to engage will help marketers identify the best mix of tactics for their social media marketing program. Here are a few thoughts to help answer those questions and to help lay a solid framework to construct a viable and profitable social media-marketing program.
Social Media has made quite the talk in small business circles but that is not a justification for implementing it within your own company. I hope you hear your mother now, saying, “Well, if Johnny (another business) jumped off a bridge (still advertises in the Yellow Pages) does that mean you would?” Now, this analogy doesn’t follow hand in hand with jumping off a bridge. I think we both know that imminent and assured death is much different than advertising in the Yellow Pages (which still works for certain niche market companies but long ago ceased to justify the amount the majority of businesses spend on it) but you get my point.
Many small businesses implement some form of social media and it fails, wasting them money. In fact, I imagine it’s only a few years before people start writing articles about how bad Social Media really is. You shouldn’t listen to them either. Now with this being said, has that looming question mark popped up yet?
Social Media is an underrated tool and with the right hands mixed with the right understanding it could increase your ROI. I am advocating you understanding what SM does and how it fits into your sales process because, let’s face it, marketing exists to drive sales.
Social Media allows you to get right in front of your customers on a daily basis. It allows them to interact with you and gives you the opportunity to deeply imbed your image (branding) with them. SM has given you two major resources that were unavailable in the past: the ability to have a daily point of contact versus what use to be maybe two weeks or a month (depending on if they saw your advert or not) or maybe even longer, and an increased quality of interaction. You now have the ability to have a deep and lasting interaction with the customer (enough to make a sustained impression) versus low quality of interaction with them just glancing over your advert if they end up paying any attention to it all.
Well, right now, Tutelary Marketing is on the verge of piloting a SM product so we’ve been doing quite a bit of brainstorming and research. Because of the nature of the SM platforms for business, we’ve come to the conclusion that SM is going to fit traditionally into your customer retention process more than any other segment. Due to the nature of the platforms, they do not make it as easy to interact with potential customers. Basically, they have to come to you and if potential customers don’t know you, how are they going to find you? However, your current customers know about you, will follow your SM and that is where the fruit lies. In fact, we believe that SM has the potential to absolutely BLOW AWAY any other type of retention marketing that you’ve ever used.
This is why you want to have a SM strategy. If you put it in the right place, where it belongs, it’s going to perform the way you’ve heard other small business owners rave and even exceed that hype. It’s all about putting the right tools in the proper place.
First, having some idea of what measurable goals and business outcomes you’re after is essential for planning resources, forecasting results & developing a vision (vision is very important, see the next topic). What exactly do you want out of this and how are you planning on tracking it? This is true with any kind of marketing and is certainly the case with social media.
You’re going to need the support of your employees on this one. SM is not one person’s job; it is a company-wide initiative and culture. Gaining consensus about social strategy and value within a small business could easily create a bottleneck. A vision based strategy that calls for experimentation with recursive enhancement in the context of overall approach, tactics, goals, audience and an effort to measure success is more likely to be implemented and gain support. Why? Because it allows the employees to own the process and reinvent it (pride of ownership). Do not force this on them. Actively involve them in the implementation and revision and above all, involve them in the fruits of success.
Building an audience is the initial phase for the SM savvy business. Populating your consumer-based platform where your customers begin to see the real value of the small business (and a firm that continues to interact) is the essential first step to generating that SM buzz for the business that is extremely valuable.
At this point, I would like to think you’re ready to kick off your Social Media campaign. So, where to now?
You need to continue to implement tactics that adhere to your Social Media goals. We talked earlier about customer retention being the main strength of SM but you need goals within it. What is your focus going to be? This should be determined by considering your consumer. Whether it’s “connecting with our customers on a personal level” or simply “building the sales pipeline”, grasping the audience preferences and behaviors will lead to the right tactical mix.
A majority of companies take the path of least maintenance and go for what is suggested to be the run of the mill set of social tools: Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, YouTube or LinkedIn without thinking through tactics. For example, one common question often that is thrown around is, “Is a LinkedIn group a better use of time and resources or a Google+ Profile?” What the marketer might want to retort is, “Where do social networking, microcontent and media sharing fit in the context of our social media goals as a marketing company?” Then do the research and execute a plan to determine which social networks or media sharing sites the target audience is a part of and contributing in. That extra credit assignment will help you cover the questions surrounding the standard framework of the social networks and where and why consumers spend their time.
Start by building community and relationships. Listen, respond and create value. Monitor and analyze for opportunities to implement social commerce aspects, but don’t push it.
An imperative aspect that makes SM so effective is what critically acclaimed journalist and author, Malcolm Gladwell calls “the stickiness factor.” Gladwell, who conducts his research in the social sciences spectrum, analyzes the unique qualities of a message that compels it to “stick” in the brain of the consumer and influences the act of a behavior change. You’ve heard of it as branding. Branding is traditionally seen as more effective the more times the message is put to a consumer. Normally, you have a two-week to a month cycle on opportunities to brand, depending on your advert type and rotation and the consumer’s behavior. However, SM gives you the ability to brand EVERY, SINGLE, DAY. Mathematically, that’s a 1,400% to 3,000% increase in exposure. That’s serious branding and you can easily see why it may be worth the maximum of your advertising budget.
Social Media is a great tool in the right process of your business. In fact, anywhere that people spend time is a great avenue for reaching out to your customers. One of the main reasons SM is so effective is you can potentially reach your customer almost every day because that is where they spend their time. SM gives you that unique ability and because of that, everyone should consider SM as a main marketing strategy.
*If you want to consider Tutelary Marketing for your Social Marketing needs, we urge you to give us a call. We have a limited amount of spots left for our pilot program. You can reach us at (615) 502-2153 to see if we still have spots available.