Not so long ago I had written about the rising influence of social media marketing and how small businesses should leverage it for their benefit. It has been many months since that article and I still meet a lot of small and medium business owners who express their inability to wade through the “mess” (as they call it) of social media.
Yes, it is not easy. The larger businesses have entire teams that manage their social media estate. As a small and medium business owner, you do not have the luxury. Very often, among the many things you do, managing social media will rest at your doorstep.
Guy Kawasaki, one-time chief evangelist at Apple and a social media expert, has only one advice for small and medium business owners – when confronted with the challenge of social media presence there is only one thing to do – start yesterday. By its very nature, social media does not lend itself to the traditional linear approach of marketing – thinking, creating, finishing and selling.
Although present for nearly a decade, social media was slow to grow in its initial years. But its influence on business has grown manifold over the past few years.
As Jeff Bullas, a noted social media expert, states “social media marketing is now at its tipping point”. A recent CMO survey by Duke University reports that social media now accounts for nearly 6.6% of all marketing budget (about $4.6 billion in dollar terms)
To make a point, Bullas highlights a recent story in the music world. Lady Gaga, when releasing her last album, spent millions of dollars on advertising, billboards, pop-up stores and gave countless interviews. The result was she sold about 305,000 copies in the first two weeks.
In comparison, Beyonce launched her new album with an update on Instagram just captioned “Surprise”. Breaking convention, when the album was launched (again through social media) it sold 828,773 copies in 3 days and was the fastest selling album on iTunes. It also had over 1.2 million tweets in just 12 hours.
Now, you may say, we are talking about celebrities. This story has implications for businesses, especially small and medium, that goes beyond a celebrity with a large social media following.
So, as Kawasaki reiterated, you have got to start yesterday. The world is changing, and fast. The marketing process is increasingly being dominated by the digital and social. So, even if your business is no Beyonce, here are a few things that you can start doing immediately to ensure you can leverage the changing paradigm.
- Own your digital assets. Have a great looking website with dynamic content that shows your business off well. (if you need help with this we have partners who can do the job for you) and establish your presence in social media. Take control of your digital
- Start farming your social networks with immediate effect. Depending on your business and its demographics you may have to be present on one or more of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Slideshare and Youtube.
- Equip yourself with the recent trends in the social media segment.
- Use your business expertise and knowledge to create content and re purpose it in a range of media including visual.
- Speak to the right audience at the right time and be engaging
- Publish and promote it everywhere
- Concentrate on search engine optimization
- Use good mailing lists to distribute your content to your audience.
- Used paid and targeted social media marketing that most social media sites offer. These give you the ability to narrowly select your prospect population so that your ads are more effective, thus giving you a better return.
All of this may sound rather daunting. However, to remain relevant and build your authority in today’s digital world there is no option. You have to reserve a specific time slot on a daily basis to this activity. You have to control and manage it till such time you can afford to bring on someone to look at social media marketing on a full time basis. And, with everything else in life, practice makes it perfect.
So, if I have given you enough food for your thoughts, why not start NOW?