Our client BankUnited turns its branches into Learning Centers, hosting programs targeted to small and mid-sized business owners eager to access insights from recognized experts in a variety of fields. The most recent topic was social media and I was invited to sit on that panel.
As I thought about it, I realized there are a few simple tips that I could share that would at least help small businesses get started. Here are some excerpts from my discussion:
Social media is the most inexpensive public relations tool a person can utilize to promote their business. It allows a business owner to control their message and become a storyteller not only to their customer base, but to the media that covers a particular industry.
That’s why it’s important to understand the social media platforms, what it takes to engage on one or more of them and then develop a strategy for that platform or platforms.
There is no shortage of available social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Pinterest, Google Plus, Linked In, Instagram, YouTube and more.
As a small business owner, that can be overwhelming. It will take resources but we have found that taking a crawl, walk, run approach makes it all manageable.
A small business does not have the resources to operate a social media hub.
So my advice is for a small business owner to understand what all of the social media platforms are, what they can do for their business and then choose the one or more that they can realistically keep up with. However, what they can’t do is establish a social media presence, gain followers and at some point stop posting content and engaging followers. You only have one chance to make a first impression.
For a small business owner, social media affords him or her the opportunity to fish where the fish are biting. They become a publisher of content and a media outlet that allows them to spread their messages and change them as needed.
A small business owner needs to do their research to find out where their customers are. It can be as simple as asking current customers what social media platforms they participate in.
Then the chosen social media outlet has to make sense. For example, a restaurant or an architect might find that Instagram or Pinterest is most appropriate for engaging with customers or potential customers. But those outlets are likely not the most appropriate for an air-conditioning repair company.
Once the platform is chosen, there are simple, inexpensive ways for a small business to let customers know about it:
- Add the social media icon hyperlink to everyone’s email signature
- Place signage in everyone’s office
- Add the icon to invoices
- For the next run of brochures, business cards and other collateral materials, add the icon.
Social media can be a powerful business building tool for businesses. Why?
A few stats of note:
1) Customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20 percent to 40 percent more money with those companies than other customers
2) They also demonstrate a deeper emotional commitment to those companies, granting them an average 33 points higher net promoter score, a common measure of customer loyalty
3) 62 percent of consumers believe Facebook is the most useful tool for researching small businesses before visiting them
In short, our advice to a small business owner is to do the research, choose a platform you can handle, do it well and most importantly, engage and engage often.