Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Social Media for Small Business: A Page o’ Links

Some small businesses struggle with how to use social media
Social media is everywhere and yet many businesses are still not using it or not using it well.

Sometimes it is a time issue. Sometimes it’s a feeling of "Where do I begin? Sometimes it’s simply a feeling of intimidation or having bene left behind.

My hope with this page of links is to offer some useful resources for any small business owner at any stage of their social media evolution:


Hubspot, probably the best champion of inbound marketing – attracting customers – has a useful post for those starting on Facebook: How to Create a Facebook Business Page in 5 Simple Steps 

Hubspot’s Mike Volpe offers a video tutorial called How to Advertise on Facebook Using Pay Per Click Ads link text

Twibs, a Twitter business portal, lists more than 47,000 businesses who are on Twitter and covers 1,000s of topics. 

On Pinterest there are thousands of boards. Two that might prove useful: Interesting Graphics – a Pinterest board curated by me that features infographics that mostly relate to social media and its uses for business. Social Media Posts – a Pinterest board also curated by me that features images that link to blog posts about social media.

On Linkedin? Then use its groups feature to discover useful groups in your community and in your industry. Go to Linkedin Groups.

Useful posts on the web:

Mashable, a great resource for news about social media has a section dedicated to social media and business.

Entrepreneur magazine’s collection of social media posts.

Inc. magazine’s The Business Owner's Social Media Tool Kit

Social Media Examiner’s A Beginner’s Social Media Guide for Small Businesses

B2C, the Business 2 Community, blog’s 10 Benefits of Social Media for Business Every Skeptic Should Know 

How to Create Perfect Posts on Social Media is an infographic that covers Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Linkedin.

Mark Schaefer regularly blogs about social media and business; his 5 Great ideas to unleash business benefits from Twitter Lists is very useful.

A collection of my earlier blog posts that may be useful to small businesses:
Have other good links? Feel free to pass them along via the Comments area.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Social media offers big benefits to small business

One thing all small business owners can agree on: They don’t have unlimited resources to put into marketing and other customer outreach.

This is where social media can be a big help. 

What does social media allow your small businesses to do?

Listen for opportunities: Possibly the most-overlooked benefit is simply being on social networks as a way take the pulse of a marketplace or to hear people discussing a need … a need you may be able to meet.
Vertical Response social media and small business survey results
Vertical Response surveyed small business and
found which platforms they preferred to use
Offer better customer service: Customers using Facebook or Twitter can easily communicate directly with you and you can quickly answer them in a public format that lets other customers see your responsiveness.

Stand out in web search: Social media allows you to share your content to a wide range of interested readers who then might visit your website, share your content with others and even link to it. It is commonly believed the big search engines take into account social signals when they decide how to rank links on the search results page.

Demonstrate your business’s personality: Social media can be a great way to show off your business’ personality, as well as behind-the-scenes information about you, your employees, your workspace, and more. By humanizing your business, it makes it easier for consumers to connect with you and develop loyalty.

Be seen to add value: By regularly sharing useful content on social media customers and potential customers are likely to decide that you’re adding value and therefore are at the least worthy of their interest. When it comes time to buy something or select a service you are more likely to be top of mind.

Extend your reach: Social platforms start as places you share information, but can also be the place that your follower extend your reach by resharing. This means people who are not yet customers are exposed to you and your business. 

Conduct competitive research: This can be as simple as seeing what your competitors are sharing and saying about what they are doing or connecting with a competitor’s dissatisfied customer to see if you can help them. 

Small business how to … get started on social media: 
  • Set a goal or goals: Be realistic because social media is a not a magic bullet and usually works best in combination with other tactics.
  • Understand your audience: Who are they and where can you find them on social media?
  • Develop a strategy: Be sure to start small and always record results, good and bad, and modify accordingly. This is an area where you might need outside expertise or at least to talk to others you trust to see what worked for them. 
  • Give social media a chance: This means allocating a modest amount of time each day and ensuring you stick with it for at least six months so you have a chance to build a following.
  • Only post relevant and interesting content: If you have to, write a list of the types of things you will share on social media. Be sure it is only stuff people would be impressed with and might reshare.
  • Be willing to adjust: After a tactic or specific social platform has had a chance and is not producing results let it go and move on.

So has this been helpful? Are there things from your own experience that other small business owners should consider? 

Related post:
10 Social Media Resources for Small Businesses

Saturday, September 13, 2014

10 Social Media Resources for Small Businesses

Any small business owner knows that it’s always about being short on money and short on time … which is why social media can be such a good investment. 

By carefully choosing a few social media platforms and allocating a little time each day small businesses can reap rewards including new customers/increased sales, competitive intelligence, better customer relations and greater word-of-mouth marketing. 

The question is where and how to begin. To help here are 10 resources for small business owners. 

10 Resources for Small Businesses on Social Media

1. Your Guide to Benefitting From Social Media by Bar Charts Inc is a good intro to social media for business purposes, has some helpful "Getting Started" tips and also answers the question for small business: “Why be on social media?”

2. Top 5 Social Media Platforms for Your Business by Gold Coast Design Studio covers Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest and offers reasons you should use them and a few best practices for each.

3. Small Business & Social Media by Purolator is a basic explanation of five key platforms and includes need-to-know terminology and "7 Tips for Getting Started in Social Media" for small businesses. Its Canadian focus on social media usage numbers is hardly surprising given that Purolator is a Canadian shipping and logistics company.

4. The Small Business Guide to Social Media Mastery produced by MarketMeSuite and Placester shares some powerful stats about why small business needs to be on social media and then offers useful tips, recommends some social media leaders to follow and warns against "spreading yourself too thin."

5. Unlock the Secrets of Facebook (For Small Business) by Intuit – offers solid beginner tips on the set up and operation of a small business Facebook page. It also offers a couple of friendly reminders about maintaining a tone of voice and scheduling posts on social media.

6. All About Twitter for Small Business by Search Engine People offers plenty of reasons to be on social media, insights into why customers might connect there and tips for optimizing a small business Twitter account.

7. Small Business Guide to Twitter by Simply Business is a great flow chart approach to answering questions a business owner might have about social media. Each of the 21 boxes in the flow chart then has a clickable link to a useful resource.

8. 5 Go-To Tips to Master Pinterest For Your Business by Infinista Concepts is a useful step-by-step graphic to get better engagement through Pinterest.

9. The Small Business Guide to Google+ by Simply Business consists of a nice interactive flowchart that answers questions and directs readers to more resources based on their knowledge and/or interest level in Google+.

10. The Power of the Hashtag for Small Business by The Huffington Post is a brief history and overview of hashtags and how they can be used by small business to get new customers and learn from other businesses.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of other resources for small businesses on social media available on the web, this is just a starter list. I hope it is helpful.

Class: This list has been put together ahead of a new class I’ll be offering at the Rochester Brainery. For more see Social Media for Small Businesses.