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5 Key Strategies For Implementing Social Media For Small Business

I have looked recently at how some of the top 100 and the top 500 of corporate America are using Social Media, so this study by business.com is valuable as it takes a close look at the use of social media by small business  (those with less than 100 employees).

The 1,711 small business decision makers surveyed all use at least one social media resource for business-relevant information. The overall average number of social media resources used by participants in this study is 5.9. This does not mean that the average North American small business decision maker uses nearly six different social media resources to get the information they need to do their jobs on a day-to-day basis. It does, however, suggest that small business decision makers who DO turn to social media resources for business information use, on average, nearly six different sources.

Among small business decision makers using social media for business information, the most frequently used resources were

  • Webinars or podcasts (67%)
  • Ratings/reviews of business products or services (63%)
  • Visiting company/product profile pages on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (61%).
  • Company Blogs at 53%

Small business decision makers find webinars and podcasts to be valuable resources for learning new skills and/or researching industries, products and services without the downsides of attending in-person seminars (travel time and expense, reluctance to walk-out of a seminar once the speaker has started).

The five top takeaways from the survey:

In general, companies interested in using social media to engage small business customers and prospects would be wise to:

  1. Develop educational webinars and/or podcasts which address specific small business needs in the process of introducing company products or services.
  2. Encourage, and carefully tend, online reviews of company products or services.
  3. Establish a presence on one or more major social networking sites and use this as a hub for corporate social media initiatives.
  4. Participate in more focused online discussions where it is easy to find and respond to questions specifically related to company products or services – such answering questions on Q&A sites like LinkedIn Answers or Business.com Answers, or in online business forums – rather than trying to work a promotional mention into discussions on 3rd party web sites and blogs.
  5. Further investigate how their target audience is using Twitter for business today and begin developing a Twitter strategy.

So for you, what is most valuable use of social media for your small business?

Jeffbullas's Blog

Comments

  • Hey Jeff,
    Great Post. We friends used Twitter & Facebook to market our small business that was an fast food joint (also serving Hookah). We concentrated more on Twitter to market it & got good customers at start but neglected facebook. Now, the business is shut & hopefully this time we would start all over again by planning it likewise & promoting it more on social media.
    I feel the most valuable media was facebook as we raked in good fan following.

  • I find it a lot easier to find and create a following relative to my niche using Twitter. Twitter has so many third party tools to assist and facilitate with obtaining a following, interacting with your followers and managing your account(s). However, if you want to do social media effectively, I highly recommend using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at a minimum with two or three bookmarking sites and a blog.

  • One of the things that always seems to be missing from the use of social media is the creation and management of your own community. Even small businesses have reason to foster a strong community. There are many ways to do this, but the problem with most of them is that they are so disintegrated – e.g. Twitter – that it’s hard to create the sense of a “home”.

    You mention Q&A as a good way to be involved in social media, and it is. But even better might be to create a Q&A site of your own to allow your community to ask and answer questions among themselves. Even better you can invite guest experts to help them with the issues that are importnat to their success.

    If you’re interested in chatting about it sometime let me know (you can ask me a question at http://answers.yousaidit.com).

    • Charles, I agree! Harnessing the power and influence of your brand loyalists can be a great way for a small business to get feedback on what’s working / what’s not, ideas for potential new products (focus groups) and brand ambassadors who spread the word across other channels.

      The community members can also end up building a stronger base just by contributing content (discussions, images, etc.) that attracts others members and encourages interaction. The heart of a community is a shared passion, I think, which the sme owner may not consider realistic or even think to tap into, because even the most basic effort takes time and investment. As with any marketing strategy, evaluation as a value add in the business plan is the first step.

      Side comment: The one time I’ve been disappointed about a combo podcast/community environment has been when Facebook was used as the platform for exchange. Just didn’t work for me as it’s so linear and difficult (if at all) to see if similar questions or topics have already been posted.

  • Interesting to see podcasts, webinars and teleseminars come out at the top because I’m starting to see too many which are thinly disguised sales pitches from start to finish rather than 90% content.

    • Hi Paul – I agree! The past few webinars I’ve seen certainly seem like a way for presenters to market themselves or their companies/products.

      On another note…Our company has recently integrated a community section on our corporate website, which we use to actively participate on social networks and interact with our audience.

      Check it out! | http://bit.ly/14GB0c | Any thoughts?

  • This confirms a trend I’m seeing everywhere – most marketers already use webinars, now I see small business owners & consultants getting into it as well, especially webcasts.

    The most valuable use social media has for me and my business is creating and building a community, bringing together people with similar needs, thoughts and ideas. With Charles on that one.

    I reckon video’s are an even stronger addition to the arsenal of tools already being used if they’re between 2 – 10 min long. Anything longer than that loses people’s attention pretty quickly.

    Ultimately, you’ve got to do what you’re best at. No point doing what everyone else is doing — just cos they’re getting good results from it doesn’t mean you will. It’s the passion, drive, interest and ease with which we embrace one medium over another that is the most effective.

    So yes, great to have a variety of ways to reach your clients & consumers, not so great if you’re not aligned with a particular marketing strategy.

    Thanks for an insightful post! Tia aka @TiaSparskles

  • Very interesting and valuable information. My one question is, is it really accurate to include the winners, podcasts and webinars, in the social media bucket. Sure they are digital media but aside from maybe commenting on iTunes, there’s not much conversation going on.

  • Sarah Bauer

    Offering webinars and podcasts in exchange for an email newsletter sign up is an excellent way to build a targeted prospect list for email marketing campaigns that target social media engagement ( contests, upcoming blog post publications, etc). Each element can work as part of a powerful inbound marketing cycle!

    Cheers
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • Cheval John

    Having a podcast really amazing for my small business (freelance writer) because it doubles the impact of having a blog.