Social Media and Small Business

Social Media and Small Business

Social Media and Business

photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc

I had an interesting conversation earlier this week with a colleague about businesses and their social media activities. What's really interesting is that in his daily encounters with smaller businesses, they're not using social media effectively. I've seen the same thing in my daily web travels. Businesses who think posting sporadic updates solely about them and their business (e.g. check out our sale! or our new catalog is out!) is how social media works. And then they get frustrated when it's not working the way they envisioned.

As a rule, social media use should be 80% content that doesn't directly promote your business with the remaining 20% used for self-promotional purposes. Although if you wanted to make that latter percentage even less, I don't think anyone would mind. I know what you're thinking, “but Jarrod, aren't I supposed to promote myself using social media because isn't that how I start getting lots of customers and rolling in the money a la Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal?”

No.

In order for social media to work, you have to share. You have to provide value to your customer. You have to have a conversation with them. Being one sided touting everything your company does is being anti-social. Listening to your customer and providing them information creates a sense of trust and builds a rapport. You also have to be active. Tweeting or posting updates a couple of times a week (or less) won't do anything for you. It needs to be part of your day.

Let's take a look at an example. Southwest Airlines has an amazing social media team who truly understands how to use the medium. Here's a recent tweet about “National Make a Difference Day” (really?) and how they managed to capitalize on the “holiday”:

Awesome. They were being self-promotional, but not in an in-your-face kind of way.

You'll also notice that Southwest's feed contains references to a variety of charities, contests, and other things that appeal to their customer without being overly promotional. Now, there are instances where they do promote themselves:

But when compared to everything else they tweet about, I don't find it offensive.

When looking at the smaller businesses and them doing social media, it seems that the vast majority really don't know what they're doing or what they're trying to achieve. This makes the case for why businesses need a social media manager.

For the small business owners out there, here's a recap:

  • Be engaging with your fans/followers/customers
  • Do not be one-sided
  • Share content from others that supports your business and its ideals (see the first Southwest example above)
  • Remember the 80/20 Rule
  • Post regularly, at least a couple of times a day

So what are some ideas for businesses wanting to get active in social media? What other things would you recommend? Discuss below!

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