Last Wednesday I had the privilege of being on the LinkedIn Lady radio show. While regular host Carol McManus (@linkedinlady) was away at a conference, a friend and former colleague, Ken Herron (@KenHerron), was the guest host. I couldn’t turn down Ken’s request that I be his special guest on the show.
Ken and I talked in lengths about how small businesses need to incorporate social media as part of their integrated marketing mix, and I’m writing this blog post as a summation of the conversation we had during the show.
Ken opened the discussion by asking me which social media platform a small business should be on. Unfortunately, there is no right answer. Social media is not about you or your business, it’s about your customers, audience, and whoever you are trying to reach. Simply put, you go where your customers are. If your customers are on Facebook, you should be on Facebook. If they’re on Twitter or Pinterest, you should be as well.
Communicate with your customers to find out which networks they are on, as well as the type of content they want from you on social media. This will enhance engagement, a process critical to your success on social media.
The next portion of the show focused on standing out from the competition on social media. While one can go the route of focusing on the ‘trends’ (YouTube or other video platforms) or on ‘conventional’ social media platforms by going with Facebook and Twitter, my professional recommendation is to be on multiple platforms and simultaneously utilize video. Part of video’s appeal for social media is that it lets your potential customers see, hear, and “touch/feel” your business. These are all important ways that people can learn about you and your business. From there, you can take your videos and cross-promote these videos on other social media platforms. It’s essentially about tying all the social media platforms together while maximizing the tangible components of your brand.
With your presence on social media, it is always important to measure success. My definition of success is not measured by the number of followers I have. Instead, it’s how many people I engage with on a daily basis. It’s how many people are retweeting what I’m saying or responding to a tweet I’ve sent out.
Success on social media does not come overnight, instead, it’s a process that requires commitment and dedication to the craft, at least fifteen minutes twice a day to grow your business by interacting with your customers online. Small business owners are their own brand, and they should share their expertise with customers regardless of the social media platform they are on.
One way to measure impact on social media is by looking at one’s Klout score – Klout basically takes different components of your digital influence and tells you how much of an influence you have on your audiences. There’s a lot of back and forth between supporters and naysayers, but the algorithms Klout uses provides insight into your online presence.
While there are no magic tricks to improving your Klout score, there are a number of ways small business owners can be effective on social media. The first is to take their time to learn the different platforms. Take whatever time you need to learn a given social network before worrying about being on multiple sites. The savvy will come, just be patient and learn all the different ways to maximize the effectiveness of the network.
This experience can be enhanced by joining Twitter chats and reading blogs to learn from social media experts. Twitter chats are beneficial to users worldwide as they are a two-way street: either you learn or strut your stuff by sharing what you know. Twitter chats are essentially what you make out of them, and can help increase your company’s visibility. Here’s a list of 15 Essential Twitter Chats for Social Media Marketers: http://mashable.com/2012/04/11/twitter-chats-social-media-marketers/. Continuing on with the train of thought of learning, reading blogs are another critical component of being successful on social media. Below is a link to a list of some of my favorite social media blogs: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/top-10-social-media-blogs-the-2012-winners/.
Before we concluded, Ken and I quickly touched on GM pulling their advertising money from Facebook and the implications this has on online advertising from here on out. The one important nugget I’ve taken away from all of this is that you need to ask yourself the question of whether paid advertising will work for your business to reach your customers, regardless of whether it is through Facebook, Google AdWords, etc. You cannot answer this question without trying, and it is worth your time, money, and effort to determine if paid advertising is worthwhile for your business. GM determined that it was best not to pay the $10 million towards Facebook and instead continue to grow the presence of their branded pages on Facebook, an initiative they’ve poured more than $30 million into during the last year. GM found something that worked better for them and it’s important that you do the analysis and allocate monies/time towards something that will maximize the effectiveness of every dollar invested.
To listen to the free LinkedIn Lady Show podcast featuring Ken Herron and Corey Axelrod, visit iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-linkedin-lady-show/id433664232.