Effective Strategies for Applying Social Media to Your Small Business

A good number of small business owners are perhaps too busy for social media marketing, or do not even understand how these platforms work. Therefore, they outsource business application of Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare to specialists. This action may not often work optimally for a business.

By experience, I’ve come to understand the power of web and how to use it effectively for business growing. Here are some major things I’ve found out so far.

  • You can Learn from Your Customers
    Social media is not all about you – in fact, it is little about you and more about your customers, audience and just anyone you are trying to reach. A popular marketing slogan goes thus “think like your customer” – this also applies when it comes to social media. If you are not sure which social media network your customers are flocking, don’t hesitate to ask them. Don’t assume they are in Facebook when they are flocking more in LinkedIn or the other way round. Asking your customers where they are on the web can create an opportunity for a valuable conversation that would give you insight on how you can be part of them and provide value to them. You can let your customers point the way to you sometimes – they may be in a better position to do that.
  • The Number of Followers is not a good Measure of Success
    When using Twitter to grow your business, do not get involved in the ‘number’ game – trying to compete on number of followers. This is especially important if you are a small business – it makes no sense trying to compete with big brands on who is having the highest number of followers. In as much as it is important to grow your community, you should be more concerned with who is engaging with you and the levels at which the ‘engaging’ is taking place. You may feel lured to engage a service to help you grow followers overnight – this may not be meaningful to you on the long run if the quality of these followers is poor, so take it slowly.
  • Social Networking Mustn’t be Free
    One of the attractions of social media to business is the perceived low cost involved – free fan page, free blog, free video site… and just free anything. But, social media is not entirely free as perceived in the aspect of quality time, energy as well as effort required to achieve meaningful result with this marketing technique. It requires a lot of time and productive thinking to create attention-getting content. So, don’t rush to sign up with every social media platform – take it one after the other, starting with the ones that are most relevant to your business or market niche. Spell out your major goals and ascertain how you are going to keep the activities actively going on day after day. So, tell me, is social media really free?

Other key things you should know about using social media to grow business is that it is not about coming all out to promote yourself. Also, you need to learn from the experts themselves.

5 Major Updates in Social Media Marketing in 2010 – Part II

It is just a little more over half a year done and we have evolved so much that 2009 looks like eons ago now. So what are the next 5 major updates in social media marketing we have to discover?

You can see it on YouTube – When Google announced Google TV and Google internet service in its I/O conference this May it wasn’t just announcing yet another launch or yet another previous acquisition transformed into Google vertical. It was darn serious about how it wants to rule every single aspect of the world’s lives via of course the w3. Its promise to enhance faster internet without glitches across the globe and to add it up with a TV service, was suddenly changing the whole idea of world wide web and how it was perceived as a place to pass time during teen age. With YouTube having gained a popularity as much as its own parent search engine it had a great platform to give YouTube a growth hormone shot in the arm by converting it firstly into sub channels just like other social networks had individual profile page. Once everyone was keen to promote his/ her channel on the video site it had achieved its status of “If you haven’t seen it you can watch it on YouTube”. It has been over the past couple of years the most visited site to watch any incident in the world that was recorded on still or video. You wanted to learn something the demos were available on YouTube, you want to teach something you can upload it there, you want to share something like a funny incident or a weird happening or an exciting historic moment like the world cup or summer Olympics or presidential inaugural YouTube is your GO TO place. Live streaming of events could be viewed like sports, major natural disasters like earthquakes and storms, when the news breaks out we head first to the site not our TV why? Because YouTube has earned the reputation of being the place you could see uncensored uncut version of the real thing. If you are an entertainer your popularity is only as much as your latest video downloads. Today Google is on the verge of converting YouTube into a lean back TV on your laptop or an online channel with real time searches on your television which ever way you’d prefer. Can you imagine how TV would stand to lose its charm the way print media has already sunk down to online media? You want to make it big in social media marketing this is your gold mine all you need is to use the shovel.

Twitter + Facebook enter SEO for real time searches – The whole web world is getting integrated and of course like any news media the search engines also need their fuel. With millions of conversations occurring every sec across the globe about almost anything under the sun the real data comes from the real people talking and not what news reporter is talking or writing about. This year search giants like Google, Bing and Yahoo integrated twitter feeds into their searches and also Facebook news feed. If you search for anything there will not only be sites available on that topic but also what was last tweeted or updated on somebody’s wall about it. If you have your business your brand twitter / Facebook profile your updates need to go through the same SEO tunnel so that its picked up on real time searches. Last year your tweets were just 140 characters of catchy short messages today they are 140 characters of keyword rich and relevant data for the hungry search engine. Think before you tweet or update or brand page wall is your current mantra for social network marketing. This one integration has enhanced organic traffic to online businesses or businesses with online sales. This also has an impact with other social networks like geolocation check ins and map uploads, the Facebook open graph of “like” buttons being clicked on websites, blogs and online photo album sites like flicker. All of it will finally be carried to the ocean of search.

Is there an app for it? – If you have a smart phone you are always downloading another app to make life easier. Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Symbian are belting out as many apps for as many task and multitasking convenience on your smartphone. Smartphones are now the nerve center for trade, news, connection, data consumption, transaction and networking. With so many activities of life occurring on a palm size device there ought to be an app for well, sleeping without snoring right? I’m sure there is one on iTunes. You are getting really smarter by the hour today, you are not only using twitter, Facebook and foursquare on your phone but you are paying bills, aligning your calendar with your friends or co workers, video calling, photo sharing, brain storming for next best campaign at work, event planning, sharing strategies, accessing bank accounts, authenticating security check with QR codes with other phones, booking your flight and hotel stay, reserving your table at a restaurant, reviewing your last visit to the museum, paying bills, managing your daily routine. Today a phone is all you need to make connections and network at events. Remember that swanky leather case with hard and trusty designed business cards you would ensure in your pocket at any given event? Well now you need not load yourself nor the environment all you need to do is get bumped with the other smartphone and business cards are exchanged. Online business cards are catching up very fast as of course carrying around the physical ones does take an effort.

Outlook integrates Facebook – OK who remembers that dreaded day when your boss caught you social networking on Facebook on your desk? You can laugh it out loud now because social media marketing has made it imperative for people to be connected real time on social media sites like Facebook to gather more sales conversion and more customer feedback also keep the conversation moving. Lets face it productivity is high when we are intrigued and interested. Outlook has curbed that need to step outside your office inbox and sign in Facebook. Now if your Facebook and outlook id are same you could integrate it in your outlook itself and the conversation with your colleagues could be done real time without exchanging emails or picking up a phone. Since its all online the conversation also has the avatar of the people in your network and it picks it up into outlook. The whole idea seems exciting for outlook users but of course, Google had given a Wave to this long time ago this year. Google Wave is the latest way so far for working and running an office in the cloud. You with your team can initiate ideas, refine them, structure them, discuss the pros and cons, make a plan of action, and follow through the end of the plan to success or otherwise. You all could be in your respective spaces (same office building) or different continents, wave makes long distance team work possible without any hindrance. Wave is a whole new gamut of cloud technology by Google that Microsoft has recently been prying over and released it all over. Wave is now open to public however I haven’t really heard of people shouting it out loud and making this fantastic application to their benefit.

Audience Management Programs replacing CRM – Customer Relation Management is getting a make over and how. Your brand is spread across at least two or more social networking sites not to mention the other online marketing sites and most importantly search. Today dashboards offering you an at a glance graph of how people are connecting with your brand, talking about you and following you. Audience management helps your brand a better gauge of whats been spoke and perceived about your business and brand. It helps you to manage your audience by connecting, engaging and responding to their needs from various accounts and social networking profiles with one dashboard. Involver, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, are some of many different kinds and levels of platforms you can try out. These are just the last 5 of the evolving social media marketing but as the days go by we are certain of a lot more evolution than we had signed up for.