2 Words Confusing Most Business Owners

These days, the words “Social Media” seems to be somewhat intimidating to most business owners.  It is relatively new technology (comparatively speaking) wherein they do not have full control over what’s happening and where everything leads, not to mention, it’s very hard to determine which specific social media outlet is responsible for generating leads for the business.

Most business owners understand how a website works, and they appreciate they can have an online store that can take customer orders, sell their products, and allow their customers to get in touch with them or get to know their products or services better.  With a website, communication is one way, everything is under their control.

The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report has some good news for small business marketers. Small business owners are seeing the greatest results from social media marketing. Michael Stelzner authored the third-annual industry study in which he surveyed 3342 marketers, 47% of whom were either self-employed or small business owners. This group reports some amazing results from social media marketing.

Here’s a quick summary of their primary findings:

  • Marketers place high value on social media: A significant 90% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business.
  • Measurement and integration are top areas marketers want to master: One third of all social media marketers want to know how to monitor and measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media and integrate their social media activities.
  • Social media marketing takes a lot of time: The majority of marketers (58%) are using social media for 6 hours or more each week, and more than a third (34%) invest 11 or more hours weekly.
  • Video marketing on the rise: A significant 77% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube and video marketing, making it the top area marketers will invest in for 2011.
  • Marketers seek to learn more about Facebook and blogging: 70% of marketers want to learn more about Facebook and 69% want to learn more about blogging.
  • The top benefits of social media marketing: The number-one advantage of social media marketing (by a long shot) is generating more business exposure, as indicated by 88% of marketers. Increased traffic (72%) and improved search rankings (62%) were also major advantages.
  • The top social media tools: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, in that order. Facebook has eclipsed Twitter to take the top spot since their 2010 study.
  • Social media outsourcing underutilized: Only 28% of businesses are outsourcing some portion of their social media marketing.

I would encourage you to read this full report. You can download it here (no opt in or registration required).

All the hype around social media tends to discourage a lot of business owners.  They set up a Facebook Fan Page, then wait for new customers to pour in, just as the hype promises.  But when it does not happen right away, then they forget about their Facebook pages.  Same goes for Twitter.

Here are the best practices we at Hudson Enterprises always implement in any social media effort.

1. Social Media Takes Time. Social media, like other marketing practices, needs to be done right.  Planning, implementing, measuring, controlling and then revisiting every step of the process is essential in making it work.  A Twitter account will not make your customers flock to your website or store a few hours after you start tweeting.  You have to take time and get involved with your social media efforts before you will see the fruits of your labor.  You have to become “The expert” in your niche first. But trust us when we say, it really is worth it!

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2. Get the “FREE” Mindset Out of Your Mind. One of the draws of social media is that people think it’s free.  I hate to pop your bubble, but it isn’t Free.

You may not have to spend any money to join Twitter or create a free-account blog, but you will have to somehow spend time and money making this endeavor fruitful.  You, a member of your staff, or someone else would have to be responsible for the blog posts, or to keep an eye on your Twitter account.  Remember that it’s useless to have a blog that has outdated entries, or a social media profile where inquiries, conversations and complaints are left unanswered. I see it all the time. A website saying, “Visit my blog for the latest updates…”  Then I go to the blog and the latest update occurred 4 months ago! Or I get someone who follows me on Twitter, and when I look to see who they are, they have 3 tweets, the last being 6 months ago. They just decided to activate some auto-follow software to help them build up their following (for free).

3. It’s NOT All About Numbers. Many large corporate Facebook Pages have millions of followers.  While it’s great to get that many people to Like you, you should not measure your success by the numbers.  As a small business, you will probably not get past a few hundred or a few dozen followers or Likers.  Instead, measure your success by the quality of interaction you give your customers who took the time to look you up and follow you or Like you.  From the Social Media Marketing Industry Report (mentioned above) finding showed that 72% of marketers who have been using social media for more than 3 years report it had helped them close business. More than half who spend 11 or more hours per week find the same results. The self-employed and small business owners with 2 or more employees most achieved this benefit (48%).

We have several clients we manage with less than 100 followers (or Likes) but yet, have several clients and sales out of those small numbers. Quality, not Quantity!

4. Take It From the Experts. Take a look at what big brands are doing and try to see which feature, interaction, and promotions are being done by these companies for their own social media efforts. Social media is a dynamic area where new things are always happening.  Business owners should be on top of these changes so they can take advantage of them as soon as they become available or as soon as these changes start to take place.

5. Don’t Hesitate to Ask For Help. Between running your business, meeting with clients, and getting new customers into your business, keep in mind there is only so much you can do.  Most businesses pass up on the opportunities presented by social media because they feel they are just too busy to interact with customers or to go along with the newest trends, like Facebook and Twitter. Most businesses cannot effectively manage a real Social Media presence, and run their business effectively too. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do both, and to do them well.

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Don’t try to be a hero, get help when you need it.  You can hire an employee to do your social media marketing, or get a consultant or a company to help you. We actually offer these services, so contact us at our website HudsonEnterprises.com if interested.

6. Catch Up With The Times. If you’re still using a cell phone that is 2 to 3 years old… time to upgrade. If you’re not using a Smart Phone (not just a phone with a web browser), time to upgrade. If you’re not using Text Messaging and SMS, time to upgrade.

Listen, you may consider yourself “Old School”, and think you can still run your business the way you did before anyone had cell phones. But if this is your way of thinking, you’re sadly mistaken.

Most of your clients are already using their cell phones to do a lot of things. Not only do they expect you to be there too, many will choose not to work with you if you aren’t. Many potential customers and clients will look for your mobile website. Don’t have one? You better get one!

Mobile Marketing is the wave of the future (at least for the next year or two, until something else comes along to uproot it as the place to be), so you’d better be there. If you’re not, get started!

Have a QR Code on your business card? What’s that you ask? “What is a QR Code?”  If you have to ask, you’re behind the learning curve. You’d better get a QR code for your website, blog, Facebook page, etc., and start putting them EVERYWHERE!  (More on QR Codes in my next post.)

I will be the among the first to admit, often times, I’m so busy helping all our clients run their social marketing, blogs, websites,  and their businesses, that my own goes into major neglect mode. The same held true for me on deciding to finally upgrade to a smart phone. Once I did, I wonder why it took me so long, and how in the world I could manage my business effectively now without it.

The Final Word: You Have to Start Somewhere!

As a business owner, whether you’re just getting into social media, or if you’ve been involved with it for a while, you might have a lot to learn and a lot of things to think about, but the most important thing is you have a plan.  With that plan, you can start little by little.  You do not have to join and try out every social media site there is. I HIGHLY recommend you focus first on the “Big 4,”  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Know your customers and make an effort to interact with them. Build relationships and follow the 90/10 rule of 90% relationship building and 10% marketing.

If you have a comment or question about this article, or anything having to do with Social Media, use the comment link below to sound off about it. We truly do love comments and questions.