Every Small Business Needs Social Media

I get baffled when I hear of small business owners not using social media. To me, that’s like a company saying they can’t benefit from having an email address or a phone number. Can you imagine a business turning down free channels of engagement because they aren’t comfortable using it? It’s shooting yourself in the foot and trying to hike a mountain. Pizza places, PR firms, law offices, car dealerships, ski mountains, and oil companies can all benefit from Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, etc.

The people that resist the most are those in a fields that are “not directly related to social media”.

I’ve been fortunate to have multiple social media proposal requests. As a social media specialist, I love this sort of stuff. I get to keep my skills fresh and I learn about new types of business. Recently, I had the opportunity to research social media utilization for metal refiners. Obviously, this is a fairly niche field. Think refining of gold for carburetors, computer chips, etc. What a weird field to market in, right?

Wrong! I live by a concept called “raising the bar”. Essentially, find what your competition is doing online and raise the bar a bit more. Whoever is most active becomes your level of mediocrity. If you want to do succeed, you need to do at least a little better than them; we all want more bang for our buck. If you offer a 10% discount, I’ll offer 11%. If you’re not doing anything in social media, I will jump right in there and set the bar myself.

But what is the ROI of Social Media?

This is another problematic thing for me. I hate to echo Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library as much as I do, but social media marketing can’t be measured in a traditional way. A business needs to “outcare” its competitors.

Example 1: I am a struggling restaurant, what are my options?

I could continue doing what I am doing now. My loyal customers would come back and maybe bring a friend. If they don’t, i’m in trouble.

Or, I could invest in Groupon or Living Social. I may offer a $25 gift card worth at $12 and lose money on the meal. (Some companies are not ready for the influx of business and actually end up with worse ratings than before.) However, if I give the customer a really phenomenal experience, maybe they’ll come back and tell their friends. I could leave a card asking for their email address and email them occasional discounts. According to the National Restaurant Foundation, people that are social network savvy are more likely to eat out. To succeed, you need to go to where the people are.

Now, what if you mess up? Well, you better have someone searching your name all the time to see if there is anything damaging to the company name. If Joe Shmoe hates your meatloaf, you better let Joe come back in to try it again for free or at least ask what he thinks is wrong with it.

Example 2: Businesses that offer services are the easiest to promote. Think of massage parlors or high-priced gym memberships. These services are both luxuries that can’t be doing well during financial crunches.

What can your business do?

Once again, do nothing and see what happens. Word of mouth is great in a positive buying environment, but not in a struggling one.

Or, you could jump on Twitter right now and search and “massage” and see all of the people complaining about needing a massage. What should you do? Go directly to the customers and say,

“Saw your tweet. I own a massage parlor in Boston. We are currently looking for new clients. Would you like a coupon for a free massage? There is no pressure to return, but I know you will enjoy it.”

Maybe 1 out of the 10 people you message will take up your offer. They may also let their friends know about their experience and you will never have to pay a sent for add space.

This would be incomplete without me mentioning the potential for your friends to share links and for your business to harness the power of online search engines.

What are your ideas?


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