Market your Business with Social Media

The selling point for social media over the past few years has been its focus on virtual “word of mouth.” In other words friends talk to friends about what they like or don’t like, and that influences the decisions they make about what to buy and where to buy it.

This is not at all a new concept. After all, most business was conducted through word of mouth a century ago. True, we were much less connected on a national or global level, but we were much more connected on a local and personal level.

So when Butcher Bob started selling rank meat, the whole town knew about it, talked about it, and punished Butcher Bob by shopping at his competitor.

Times changed, of course, and word of mouth promotion was eclipsed by the golden age of advertising, with celebrities hawking products, and claims that 4 out of 5 dentists prefer one product over another.

The analogy between social media and the old mechanism of word of mouth promotion seems a bit far-fetched, but not when you realize the forum that social media provides to broadcast an individual’s message.

One person can send a tweet, post a status update, or create a video, which could either boost or harm a business. In fact, one of Comcast’s biggest PR nightmares occurred just a few years ago when a law student posted a YouTube video of a cable repairman sleeping on his couch.

Likewise when customers rave to friends and family members about a business, product or service, thereby driving traffic virally, they can boost the business’ bottom line dramatically. Old Spice, after all, was a has-been until they ran their viral, YouTube promotion featuring the Old Spice Guy in 2011.

While Old Spice paid for the videos and some news releases, it was the customers that did all the work (just like it was the customer who gave Comcast so many headaches).

And that is the point for small, local businesses. Let the big companies and those with multi-million dollar budgets spend time creating content, advertisements and promotions. But small local businesses should focus on the personal connections that social media provides. After all, don’t you do that already?

Think about it. If you own a restaurant isn’t it routine for your wait staff to ask customers how they enjoyed their meal? If they rave about it at the table, imagine how much better it would be if they raved about it online—if their friends heard them talking about how wonderful it was, wouldn’t that be even better than any amount of advertising you could do?

So small, local businesses should focus not on the flashy glitz of social media, but on the connections it provides.

But how to do this? Unfortunately, while the cost of social media can be inexpensive, the time it takes to devote can be quite high. It starts by training everyone in your organization to approach your social media presence as part of their job. The waiter or waitress that asks customers how their meal was (for example), should take the opportunity to ask them to post their rave review to Facebook , or any number of review sites (Yelp, Google Places, etc.).

Next, you must spend time yourself on your social sites. Set aside 1-2 hours a day to do this and make it a priority. Although I advocate getting professionals to help you in your strategies, planning and development, nothing can replace the personal attention that you or one of your employees can give your customers.

What’s more, the professionals you could hire are outsiders. They don’t know your customers like you do. While you might know what particular tastes your regulars have, no management or consulting company will know that—in fact they won’t even know who the regulars are.

Conversations are the key to long-term sustainable marketing programs using social media. You must be authentic and treat people online as you would treat them in person. For small, local businesses these are the ingredients to a stellar online marketing campaign.

Word One Consulting
575-496-6807
clint @ wordoneconsulting.com
2263 S. Main
Las Cruces, NM 88005