Social media has become quite a staple in today’s business environment – impacting both, small and large, businesses. For a small business, swimming through this deep pool can, quite often, present its own set of challenges. And yet, as a small business owner, you cannot avoid being present on the social media scene.
At many of the networking events, I have heard small business owners express their exasperation of their lack of knowledge of the new canvas. They shy away from any serious discussion on the grounds that social media is for the “young generation” and has got nothing to do with the running of a business. There can be nothing farthest from the truth.
Not long ago, I was fortunate to join a webinar by Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley author, speaker, investor and, currently, special advisor to the Motorola Business Unit of Google. A one-time Chief Evangelist of Apple, Guy is also the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment and several other books.
According to him, when presented with the challenge of the social media presence for your business there is only one thing to do – start yesterday. By its very nature, social media does not allow for the serial, step-by-step approach that is effective in most business endeavours. Guy states that the typical steps in marketing – thinking, creating, finishing and selling – should run parallelly, not serially, in the social media context.
Getting the right social media platform is critical to the success of your marketing efforts through this medium. For this, Guy has segmented the most popular social media sites into four Ps’ that he calls:
- People – which is represented by Facebook and is a platform for interacting with people you already know and with whom your credibility and trust has been established.
- Perceptions – represented by Twitter and is a platform to be used to broadcast your perceptions, new ideas and reactions.
- Passion – represented by Google+ which is a perfect place to explore your passion and connect with people who you may not know but share the same passion
- Pimping – for LinkedIn which is best suited for “pimping” yourself out or, in other words, marketing your business and its abilities.
It is very likely that your business will have to be present on all of the above (and any newly introduced) social media. The first key step towards establishing your presence in this space is to create a compelling profile that reflects your business’s personality while inviting people in. The main driver to this is a great photograph that is reflective of a likeable and trustworthy person and someone who they visitors would like to associate with professionally and, later, personally.
As a small business owner time is the most critical factor. While social media demands that your sites are “active” and “fresh”, your constraint on time may prevent you from meeting this demand. The best way, Guy suggests, is to curate a link and cheat. By curating links you provide your followers with significant content that are from you and other industry or business influencers. By cheating he means joining the “hot list” bandwagon. By running with some of the hot topic ideas, you will drive traffic to your business and let people know you are actively engaged in what’s going on. Curating a link and commenting on it can initiate action in the social media whereby readers will share your quote to the benefit of your brand.
The most important factor to keep in mind is avoiding excessive self-promotion. Excessive posting of self promotional content will prove to be counter-productive. Instead, first established yourself as a source of informative content. When you have achieved this you can infiltrate your sites with self promotion posts. On the average, Guy suggests, that for every 20 informative posts, you can post one, self promotion piece.
The biggest advantage of social media is its interactive feature. So, if your fans post comments on any of your social media sites, be prompt in responding to them.
Last, and equally important, Guy stresses that that posting in large quantities may be the key to success for your business. Repeating and re-purposing content is an effective way to gain more traffic and build a strong following.
Now Guy Kawasaki does have his fair share of detractors who say that the above check list only panders to one’s ego. But, in a business scenario, as long as you follow the above tips and be aware of the quality as well as quantity of your postings on social media, you will be assured of a very decent payback. In the long run.
So, have I given you enough to make a start? NOW ??