When you are a small business owner, you're already juggling a million balls up in the air. Often, the suggestion that you add another ball like social media can elicit a groan. Yes, you may think social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others is great for reconnecting with high school and college buddies, watching funny cat videos and even sending out the dreaded game request to get additional lives (you know who you are). But when social media in the business realm is done right, the results for your businesses' brand management is nothing short of magical. Plus, if you are doing the posting yourself, venturing into the social media realm costs you nothing but time and creativity. Note to business owners: Your customers and potential customers are on social media. And so are your competitors. It is not just wack-a-doodle mindless dribble and wasted time. When done well, as a planned business strategy, it can be a direct line of communicating with the folks that can fuel your success. Social media allows companies to show the funny, smart and softer side of a brand and allows people to connect with your business on an emotional, more personal level. On Facebook, they get to "Friend You" and as a result, whenever you post something, whether it is details about a new product, images or just a nice hello, it will appear on their personal Facebook pages. On Twitter, your customers get to "Follow You" and whenever you Tweet or send a brief message, it appears in their Twitter Feed or pages. If they re-tweet your message, all their Twitter followers receive your company's message as well. The possibilities of reaching potential clients are endless. The biggest challenge for businesses on social media is that you must be sure your content is updated on a regular basis, stays relevant and consistent with your brand and brings added value to your customers and potential customers. For example, let's say you own a lawn service. On Facebook, your company could help people with ideas on managing their lawn problems. Post tips about the best time to start cutting grass. Share factoids on different types of grass. Highlight area weeds and the best solutions for getting rid of them. In essence, it's a place to flex and show your expertise and demonstrate why your business is the best option around for lawn care because you Love It! Don't be afraid to show personality and wit. Your customers and followers would appreciate and maybe even share your corny lawn care jokes. They may relish the factoid on lawn pests and even share it with others. It's all about helping to create and move the conversation forward on things that your business knows well and offers as a service. Nobody can do that better than you.
Here are a few examples of businesses doing social media well:
Publix @Publix and @PublixHelps. - This company just has all around "good buddy" feel on social media. Much of the buzz on their platform comes from their millions of happy customers who rave about everything from the extreme customer service they offer to their great fried chicken and baked good. When the company posts directly, they worry less about advertising and promoting and opt instead to post like a friend with engaging questions and relevancy for what is going on in the world. Also, the company opts to only post no more than two times a day on its page and sends out only about five tweets on Twitter per day. They understand that nobody likes to have their pages spammed or filled with mindless company dribble.
Black and Married with Kids - With nearly a half a million Facebook followers, this lifestyle website for African-American families is doing something really right. Highlights include consistent, fresh and relevant content on their pages that helps people feel emotionally connected to the brand, a dogmatic consistency in their brand, they never spam followers with sales pitches in their Facebook feeds. And they intimately know their target audience and how to speak to them on an emotional level.
Burger Revolution - We were tipped off to this great use of social media by smallbiztrends.com. This Canadian company uses social media (Facebook) to notify their hungry local fans of the dwindling supply of burgers for the day. They feature specific burgers, whet your growing appetite and create a strong sense of urgency just in case you were planning on joining the burger stampede. Real smart use of social media for sure.