Big brands use social media as a marketing channel. But for small businesses that really isn’t how social media is valuable. Social media success for small business is obtained by doing what small businesses do best, provide personal service.
What social media means for small businesses
You’ve probably heard by now that social media is a way to communicate with your customers. But so many questions still are out there on how and ‘what do I say’. But the number one question has to be how do I make social media contribute to my bottom line? This question is why many businesses give up and ultimately fail at social media. This is the wrong question to ask. Yes, it is possible to make social media profitable but that can’t be the main reason to engage in it. Customers will be able to see through obvious hard or soft sells. The real value is so much more than just the bottom line.
- It’s in building raving fans. Loyal customers who become advocates and tell others about your business.
- It’s a research tool to learn more about who your customers are and what they are interested in.
- It’s customer care to make sure they are happy and get feedback on how you can improve your business.
All these intangibles are what make social media so invaluable.
Social media is personal service done online
Social media can rejuvenate small businesses again that serve their customers with great service. How? By engaging 1 on 1 with fans. Thank them for purchases, offer advice and tips on how best to use the products. There is so much opportunity for small businesses to continue to grow and thrive with social media but, to be frank, it’s so misused. Social media should be thought of the online equivalent of talking to a customer in your store or office.
The Small Business Administration (SBA), along with Google, did a great case study on Skaters Landing, a retailer of skating equipment that has both a brick and mortar store and e-ommerce site. Watch and pay particular attention at the 45 second mark when the store manager and owner of Skaters Landing talks about how they are using Facebook and Twitter. They got it exactly right.
The key is to talk about and share the things that are relevant for your business but at the same time how it benefits your audience. If you own a running store then you probably talk about up coming races and give advice about the best type of shoes for each person. If you own a dry cleaners then you can talk to customers on how best to take care of their clothes or how frequently to bring in their suit. Social media is about being social so you should ask ‘what can I give to my audience’ instead of ‘what can I get from my audience’. Once you have a loyal fan base they will essentially become your advocates telling anyone and everyone about your business. This is basically ‘word of mouth’ advertising but done on a larger scale. You just got to give them a reason to share about the business.
Social media wrap up
If you take away anything from this article I hope it is this, social media is nothing more than an outlet for what you are already doing when meeting customers face to face. You engage with them, discuss issues, answer questions, address their needs, and even have small talk. Give them something to remember you by and they will keep coming back.