Social marketing and the small business…

CokeIt’s been a good five years since “social marketing” really took off in a big way. Big, no HUGE corporations use it in one way or another. It likely doesn’t help their bottom line, but Coca-Cola, Microsoft, NASA, General Electric and even Yahoo and Google use Facebook. So WHY don’t small businesses who actually NEED the help? The simple answer is: knowledge.

FacebookMost (not all) small business owners are intelligent go-getters who want to succeed in their chosen area of commerce. Those in the retail sector should be the first ones with a Facebook and Twitter accounts, but so many just don’t bother… or, they have the accounts and just don’t use them. As a geek, it’s frustrating to see those entrepreneurs leaving money on the table. If it’s good enough for GE and Coke, why not the local tire shop or tea room? Or for that matter, why not the local artist who sells prints at the weekend sidewalk markets?

TwitterAgain, “knowledge” is the short answer. Most of these businesses either think it’s a fad or that it wouldn’t bring them much business. Twitter claims more than 50 million daily users and Facebook has over 460 million daily users. That’s Million. Each DAY. If it’s a fad, I think it’s doing better than the pet rock. Businesses who aren’t active with their social media are telling customers (and potential customers) that they do business the old way – so don’t expect online coupons or special discount codes via txt message – just go buy from them because they’re there. The money they’re leaving on the table are the potential sales that are being gently reminded that their business is open and wants to serve their customers.

Two minutes - 2 minutesSavvy small business take advantage of discounts, services and offers that save them money. A six-month discount on phone service could save them a few hundred dollars. $25 off coupons at Office Max adds up. So something that is close to free – such as social marketing – should be a no-brainer. These days, just about every business knows that they have to have even a basic website. Yet sooo many small businesses just don’t want to take the time to understand the basics of Facebook. Sure, getting it setup PROPERLY may cost them a few hundred dollars to up front, but maintaining it themselves costs – $0 – the only real cost is a tiny bit of time each week – as little as two minutes. Yes, 2 minutes.

Two minutes by a business owner once a week means logging onto their Facebook page, clicking in the “What’s on your mind” text box and writing just one sentence that is relevant to the product or service they offer. If you’re a tea room you might write “Got in a fresh order of Caramel Rooibos tea today – stop by and have a cup.” If Social marketingyou’re an artist maybe a link to one of your pictures and a note like “I first had the idea for this image in 1991, but didn’t paint it until last year.” What’s the point of this? It’s engaging. It reminds people that you’re there. It’s short and easy to ‘consume’. Potential customers don’t get slaughtered with a 30 second ad, they don’t have to invest more than a few seconds to read it, and sometimes, people actually pay attention! (Then maybe pay for your product.) If they don’t buy this time, maybe next time – or maybe when a friend says “I’m in a mood for mexican food” and the potential customer says “Hey, I just saw the special today at La Sirena Grill is a Blackened Salmon Burrito… mmmm”. They just might stop in… But if that friendly ‘reminder’ isn’t there, what are they chances they end up at your place?

What's on your mind? - DaveTavres.com

Besides just having a Facebook page, it has to have the right name.

A page name that doesn’t look right when a potential ‘marketer’ (fan) tries to mention you in their posts means you won’t get those ‘free’ clicks… or traffic… or marketing. For example. Goodwill’s main Facebook page is called "Goodwill Industries International, Inc.". Most Facebook users are not going to post: "Anyone want to go to Goodwill Industries International, Inc. with me today?" (In fact, it won’t even pop up as a suggestion!). If their page name was just “Goodwill”, they would get much more social engagement… like this: "Anyone want to go to Goodwill with me today?"

I’ve been in the software industry and building websites, setting up Facebook, Twitter and many other social media sites for businesses for years. The ones that embrace it and USE it, sometimes enjoy it and always benefit from it.