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For Small Business, Social Media is Word-of-Mouth Struck by Lightning

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“Demystifying social media for small business”

(This is Part 1 of a 3 part series on how small businesses can use social media to build communities to grow their business.  In part 2, we will talk to several experts for advice on how to leverage social media.)

Successful small businesses have always focused on people – serving customers, making connections and going that extra mile.  Today, to compete, small businesses must understand and utilize the right social media tools.  Yet, many small businesses still don’t play in the social media space.

According to a recent study in eMarketer, small businesses “reliance on word-of-mouth along with the low cost in dollars of participating—has led small businesses to make social media their No. 2 online marketing effort, after company websites.”  Meanwhile, the old favorites, Yellow Pages, newspapers and magazines continue to fade faster than a sunset.  Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, says:  “78% of people trust peer recommendations vs. only about 14% who trust ads.”

If word-of-mouth is an important part of how you win and retain customers, think about amplifying word-of-mouth into the social media world.  There are several free social monitoring tools available to help your small business identify your audience, build connections and start to engage.

Don’t invest all your time trying to leverage Facebook if your customers aren’t there.   According to “the American Express OPEN and Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization “Small Business Search Marketing Survey”, US small businesses recognize word-of-mouth as the top way their customers find them, followed by the internet and search engines”.  According to eMarketer,

“44% of US Small businesses currently use Social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and 29% plan to add in 2011.”

 

Rise of social media offers new ways to engage customers & grow exponentially.

The social web provides an opportunity to make connections, build relationships and reach an amazing number of people.  If you’re new to social media, start with one of the big four: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a blog.  Start writing your blog on a topic of importance to your audience.  Use Twitter to tweet a link to your blog post so visitors can share across other social networks.  Now, post the blog link to Facebook, and share your post on Google+, the hottest social networking site.  Meanwhile, your initial tweet gets retweeted, bringing considerable traffic to your blog.  As your audience grows, other sites may start linking to your blog. 

By the way, don’t forget to check out Google+ (Take the Google+ tour) which offers new features like Hangouts (video chats) and Circles which lets you place people (perhaps customers and prospects) into circles to share content. Google+ just might surprise you.

With several social media channels to choose, find one or two you like and focus on building an audience.  You won’t be able to build a community overnight, but if you don’t start now, your competitors won’t wait for you.  Spend a couple hours a week learning how these tools work as you glean the business benefits.    Remember, the tools are supposed to serve you, not the other way around.  While you extend your social media reach, you increase the opportunity to generate conversations that influence purchases, generate referrals, improve customer service, and contribute to sales.  For small business, social media is word-of-mouth struck by lightning.

“Marketing Tools and Technology – How Does A Marketer Decide?” was originally posted on Michael Brenner’s Blog B2B Marketing Insider.

Posted by on Aug 15, 2011 in Small Business, Social Media Community, Social Media Marketing | 0 comments

Bio

Mark Burgess
Mark Burgess, co-author of The Social Employee -- a best-seller on How Great Companies Make Social Media Work. He is president of Blue Focus Marketing, a leading Employee Experience (EX) services consultancy, delivering e-learning, employee engagement, content marketing, and social media marketing solutions. He is an experienced digital marketer, content marketing strategist, speaker, blogger, and educator. Mark delivered a TEDx Talk on “The Rise of the Social Employee.” Mark’s career spans marketing, advertising, professional services consulting, and education. Mark has held senior-level marketing roles at PwC, AT&T and McCann. Mark is listed on Forbes as Must-Follow Marketing Minds on Twitter, and is a Top 200 Content Marketing influencer. He is an expert trainer for the American Marketing Association (AMA) delivering Content Marketing workshops. Mark led the PwC Global Web team. At McCann, he headed the flagship L’Oreal account. At AT&T, Mark was in charge of interactive marketing. Mark is an adjunct marketing professor teaching MBA marketing courses at Fairleigh Dickinson University. On the Rutgers Business School faculty for executive education delivering training modules on Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, and Social Media Marketing. Mark is a contributor to Wharton’s Advertising 2020 Project and their book, Beyond Advertising: Creating Value through All Customer Touchpoints. Mark’s article on “Piloting the Future of Social Business – Branding from the Inside Out” was published in Harvard Business Review Italia. He has won two EFFIEs for marketing excellence. Follow him on Twitter @mnburgess, @SocialEmployee, and @BlueFocus.

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