When the Internet started turning our globe into a village, which started sometime in the early 90s, many business leaders viewed it as just another marketing channel.
Those who recognized its true potential, created quantum growth for their businesses.
Over the last 4 years, social media has similarly exploded, and there are many who regard it as just another way to market using relationships.
It is so much more, and it can do so much more for your small business.
What Is Social Media?
For those of us entirely out of touch with Social Media, a simple definition: It is a rough grouping of websites, web based services and web based application that allow the individual to create a network of others, define it and relate to it, using text, audio or video communication.
Such networks may be business networks, and websites such as Xing, Ecademy and LinkedIn service this niche.
Most social media however, is exactly what it says on the cover ‐ social.
Here, a vast variety of online experiences are available.
From blogging websites like Blogger, to media sharing sites like YouTube, to multiplayer gaming websites and virtual worlds like SecondLife.
Is There More Than Building Relationships To This?
We have three words for you:
We recently reviewed the social media footprint of a client, a small business owner from Queensland.
He had a Facebook page, a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter profile and he occasionally offered deals through Groupon.
He seemed reluctant to broaden his presence on social media, but could not understand why his website generated fewer leads than a year ago.
We started by setting out some numbers for him.
- 1 billion – the number of tweets sent each WEEK.
- 100 million – the number of views on YouTube each DAY.
- 100 million – LinkedIn’s current membership, growing at the rate of 1 new member each SECOND.
Finally, the most important numbers of all, only 35% of Australian business has a web presence, and only 20% have a social media presence.
His leads were probably being snapped up by competitors who were using social media effectively.
What is “Effective” Use of Social Media?
We reviewed several case studies of businesses across the “pond”.
Take the case of Geoff Tucker, a dentist from Florida, USA who grew his business by focusing his brand on himself.
His first aim was to establish personal friendships with potential customers on Facebook, and then, grow his business. “Customer relationships have never been easier to found than through social media,” he said.
It is easier now to initiate a relationship, through likes, follows, comments and wall posts.
It is easier now to maintain a relationship.
Many users on Facebook and Twitter follow brands that they like, update your page or send out a tweet, and your brand is back at the top of their mind.
Build Depth of Your Social Campaign.
Nowadays, you probably noticed how your local bank or utility company wants to be your “friend” on facebook. Several of those campaigns failed simply because there was no depth or perceived value for the end consumer in befriending such business.
There are essentially, two approaches to building depth.
One is to put something unique on your social media platforms, something that the competition does not have.
The other is to solve the right problems.
The first approach does not yield a sustainable competitive advantage.
We are living in a digitally accomplished world and anything unique is easy to copy.
The trick is to solve the right problems, and to consistently keep on solving them.
A simple example of solving the right problems was adopted by Steelmaster Buildings, a Virginia, USA based manufacturer of prefabricated buildings.
They used their Facebook page and their Twitter feed to post high resolution pictures of the prefabricated buildings they had built.
In the world of fan pages, free product training online, company partnerships and email lists, none of their competitors had identified the right problem to solve.
Another example is Listorious, a service available on Twitter.
Twitter relies on members posting information for their networks and for the general public to see.
The information radiate from member’s accounts, and spread out to other member accounts.
The only way to club it by subject is to use hash tags.
When I post this article on Twitter, for example, I would use the hash tags #smallbusiness, #australia #socialmedia.
Listorious took this concept and evolved its service, it offers lists on Twitter.
Lists of experts, of products, of brand groupings.
A practically useful classification system that solves the right problem.
Proven Social Media Strategies
1. Build the right contacts – those interested in buying.
2. Offer quality information, regularly, and topically.
3. Demonstrate your investment in your customers. Be ready to spend time, effort and energy into providing efficient and empathic customer service on social media.
4. Social media is about layering your brand’s message, highlight different aspects of your brand’s benefits, using different platforms.
5. Social media is about reinforcing your brand’s message, make sure all the platforms and all the highlights build up to a cohesive image.
6. Invest in search engine optimization. Given the glut of information on the web, dollar for dollar, SEO offers the best return on investment.
7. Besides marketing and sales promotions --‐ deploy PR. Public relations managements imbues your brand with invaluable credibility. Everything else that you say, if lifted up by the PR content on your social media, your website and on the internet.
Unique Selling Advantages
Despite these insights, there is no “one solution fits all” strategy that will address all your marketing imperatives.
Each unsuccessful small business is unsuccessful due to generic reasons, but each successful small business follows its own unique path to success.
Our services start with a consultation that captures your business’s unique signature, all advise flowing from this no fee consultation is tailored to meet your needs, at the fastest rate, and with the greatest value for money.
About the Author
Robert Maroszek is the Managing Director of MGCW Australasia. He has over 15 years of experience in establishing and growing start--‐up companies, advising to hundreds other ventures both privately held and publicly listed at various stages of development as well as holding senior management and executive positions for entities ranging from $1M to $100M In Australia, Europe and the United States. One of his areas of expertise is Smart Marketing Budget Management.