This is a guest post written by Tammy Kahn Fennell, CEO and co-founder of MarketMeSuite. MarketMeSuite now has thousands of users and a fast-growing global customer base of small businesses and consultants.
As more and more users flock to social media, small businesses must find a way to use these channels to reach their target markets. It can often seem daunting to cut through the social media clutter; however with these 5 strategies, you’ll be well on your way to social media marketing success.
1. Narrow Your target
For small businesses, it’s important to connect with people in your geographic area, especially if you are a brick and mortar operation. Targeting your social media posts to a specific area or keyword set ensures that you are only interacting with viable leads.
There are hundreds of thousands of status updates getting published every minute, so cutting through the clutter has to be a top priority. Start small. Start out familiarizing yourself with tools like search.twitter.com, and you can eventually move on to using a more business-specific tool like CoTweet or Hootsuite.
2. Be Proactive
If you simply assume that “if you tweet, they will come,” you may be waiting for a long time. You need to find out who you should be interacting with and go after those people. Join Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, check out PeerIndex.net lists on your genre, and look at a person’s Twitter Grader score. There are so many tools out there whose sole mission is to make it easier to target your exact customer, so make use of them.
3. Some Automation Is Bad
When you’re having conversations with potential customers, you need to be real. Spam is one sure-fire way to turn people off. You want to start a conversation with qualified leads, and grow that conversation organically. You don’t need 500 people a day to respond to you. Instead, having 5 or 10 qualified leads will add much more to your bottom line.
Does this mean you can’t streamline the process? Of course not! Some automation is okay. For example, scheduling updates, pulling in from your RSS feed, these are all great time savers. It’s fine to even have a few templates ready to reply when you see people tweeting or posting on Facebook about something, but never automate the interaction because the results could be incredibly embarrassing.
Back in the day when these sorts of apps were allowed by Twitter, I tried an app for my antiques business that would automate replies without human interaction. I set it to look for a rare German figurine, and asked it to send them a specific tweet if they found it. Since I was not manually reviewing the matches, I had no idea that the same name of this German figurine was also a well-known Pokemon character. I had a lot of confused people @replying me. Templates are fine (there’s only so many ways you can answer a certain question) but make sure you’re reviewing who you are replying to!
4. Don’t Miss the Giant Gorilla
As a SME owner, you are expected to wear a lot of hats. When your social media hat comes off for a little while, you don’t want to leave your followers with nothing. Schedule some helpful posts for your followers, fans, and group members to read while you’re busy doing other things, but never leave them hanging for too long.
Social media is a great way to field a lot of customer requests, support, and even research. Set up searches for keywords related to your brand and put in the time to handle requests daily. Just make sure you set up enough ‘nets’ so you never miss the ‘giant gorilla’ in your business.
Because social media conversations happen in real time, you can usually put out a spark before it becomes a full fledged fire, often in 140 characters or less!
5. Give Others Credit
There are so many collaboration opportunities in social media. Retweeting is a great way to show your followers you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, but a big mistake is just posting a load of unattributed feeds as your own. You should always give credit to the original author of what you’re tweeting. First, it shows your users you’re monitoring the field and curating some great content for them. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a great way to get the attention of the person whose content you are pushing. You can start a lot of great strategic partnerships with a simple “RT.”
Key Marketing Takeaway:
Social media sites are exploding with users. As a savvy business, you can focus your efforts and concentrate on creating interactions that will help turn the social media noise into traffic which converts.
For a business without a lot of time or a very large marketing budget, social media is a great place for a targeted interaction to become a viable lead.