This post is directed to small business owners who’ve heard their business needs to have a social media presence and want to get started today. After reading this post you will certainly be able to take the actions that will greatly help your company. But, take these 12 actions with this warning:
WARNING: Social Media/ Digital Media is very powerful. It can both help and hurt your value proposition. Though I believe these are necessary in today’s business environment many of you may need additional help to complete these actions at a level that adds value and represents your brand positively.
Here are 12 things your small business must do.
Your business must…
- Have a website. Lets start with the overwhelmingly obvious. If you own a small business and don’t have a website you’re committing business suicide. This doesn’t mean you should throw up a website for the sake of having a website; like anything in business you should have purposeful action driving your decision.
- Have a business blog. Blogs in their simplest form are a method for creating dynamic, up-to-date content on your website. The content created can be easily shared. The primary reason to blog: interacting with your current and potential clients and feeding search engines with the type of content it loves. Posting daily or weekly isn’t necessary but at least provide value in any posting pattern.
- Engage your target market with a Facebook Page. Facebook has 1 billion users and, to a small business, that means nothing. But the notable part of Facebook is that it has secured its market well enough to ensure that if your business vests time into the platform, then it will reap the benefits. Facebook Pages at this point are free and allow you to have a 2-way conversation with those users that “Like” your page.
- Be on Foursquare. The future is in mobile and location based services, like Foursquare, that offer lots of value. What does a “check-in” mean to your business? Exposure and social proof. If we drive down the road and see Restaurant A and Restaurant B. Restaurant A often has no one inside whereas Restaurant B is frequently busy. We ultimately assume: Restaurant B is better than Restaurant A. This real-life social proof is how check-ins work online. Beyond this specific social proof the Foursquare platform is used by other mobile applications to propagate other listing apps (example: AroundMe). Location based services like Foursquare easily integrate with your marketing plan by offering incentives to the customers that check-in regularly.
- Listen and converse through Twitter. First, create a Twitter account and don’t worry about what to say. No one cares if you’re eating a pizza or selling your product or service to someone else. Where Twitter gets powerful is if you begin to use it to listen and provide answers. One of the most powerful website’s online is: search.twitter.com. Use twitter to build an actual relationship.
- Have your business listed on Google Maps. If you haven’t done this…. stop reading and do it now. It’s ok, I know you’ll come back to read the rest. All you have to do is go to Google Places for Business and register your business location. Keep in mind – Google Places is now Google Plus, a bit more complicated but still very important.
- Have accounts on social bookmarking sites. Start with StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Delicious, etc. If you’re blogging, and now we all know you should, you will need to bookmark your best blog posts on these sites. This enables others to help you promote your content or business easily.
- Create YouTube videos. Relevant videos are one of the highest forms of visual engagement and is a major part of the social media universe. It’s important to create compelling videos. Social media has groups, Photos=Instagram, Text/Articles= Blogs, Real-time updates=Facebook & Twitter and videos=YouTube. I agree that many of these groups overlap but by providing content to all primary distribution channels you’re giving your business the best chance for success. Using professionals is very helpful but not entirely necessary. YouTube ranks well in Google thus enabling people to find you through your video. (After all, Google owns YouTube)
- Have an Instagram account. Many business owners already use photos to create compelling visuals. Instagram allows you to deliver them to a market drawn to imagery as a form of communication. Use Instagram as a tool for people to get to “know” your staff and your products from an new angle.
- Come up with a plan. Now that you have all of these accounts, what kind of information are you going to share? This isn’t an easy question to answer on your own, which is why our company offers consultations, but you should write out your plan and execute that plan efficiently.
- Make branding important. Your branding (Logo, colors, fonts, slogan, website, etc) should be prominent on all your Internet activities. Your social campaigns should carry the brand across all your social accounts.
- Keep track of your activities. Many small businesses aren’t used to documenting and recording social media activities but the value of this information will help you determine the financial return.
Lucky 13. Connect to professionals using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with other business owners and other professionals. Also use LinkedIn to keep an eye on your competitors and the market as a whole.
Mot de la fin…
This 12 must-do list is only going to help your business if you interact with your customers. It’s one thing to have a website and all these social accounts created, but another to use them correctly, by providing value and creating relationships through these mediums.
Do people recognize how this shift has given businesses the ability to extend the story into social and collect the data? (Example TV & Billboard directing to Facebook)
I ask one thing. Please have a substantial strategy and if you’re a small business using the list above, keep this in mind: the Internet is not even an adult, only 17 years old, and it’s dominating.