Find Out Why Social Media Is
A Must for SMBs
used with permission from the
HP Small &
Medium Business Site
Let's start with
the bottom line: If you're not participating in social
media, your business is missing out. You no longer have any
excuses ("I'm too busy" or "It's overwhelming"), it's time
to get engaged.
In a recent survey
by ROI Research reported in MediaPost, 40 percent of those
surveyed use social sites to connect with brands and
products. Thirty-seven percent learned about a new product
or service from a social networking site, and 32 percent use
social networks to recommend products or services to
And it's not just
consumers. In a recent study conducted by Business.com, more
than half of small-business owners reported using social
media sites to gather information about companies, products
and prospects before buying or doing business with them.
networks are effective sales tools as well. According to the
Inbound Marketing Report, 41 percent of Twitter and LinkedIn
users, 44 percent of Facebook users and 46 percent of
businesses with a company blog say they acquired customers
through those channels.
Obviously it's time to jump on the social media bandwagon.
Are you ready? Here's a quick overview.
The most widely-known general business networking site,
LinkedIn is useful if you sell business-to-business products
or services, want to build a reputation, or are seeking new
employees, vendors or partners.
Get started by
creating a profile and creating a unique URL for it that
comes up in Google search results.
privacy settings so your network is notified whenever
you update your profile. Update frequently so your
contacts get regular reminders about you and your
Fill out the
"What are you working on?" field in your profile to
attract potential customers or people who can help with
your latest projects.
Introduction feature to get introduced to potential
clients, contacts or employees.
reputation as an expert by joining or starting a
LinkedIn group related to your industry, or by answering
questions on LinkedIn Answers.
the new Small Biz Nation group. It's a great place to
meet, share knowledge and exchange ideas with fellow
business owners and get answers from industry and small
The best-known consumer social networking site, Facebook
works especially well if your business markets to consumers.
The idea is to create "fans" or to get people to "like" your
product or brand.
- Create a
Facebook Fan Page for your business and keep it lively
by continually posting new content. You can post
everything from photos and videos to questions, updates
- You have
the option to let fans post on your page as well, which
can be a great way to build a community of people
sharing what they think about your products or services.
Facebook's analytics to see what posts get the best
results and use that intelligence when you create new
companies can use Facebook to get insights into
prospective clients or contacts. Google someone who's on Facebook and their page will show up. Depending on their
privacy settings, you may be able to view their hobbies,
interests and other details that can help build a
Twitter is a micro blogging service whose users send short
messages, called "tweets" (up to 140 characters, including
spaces). Twitter users "follow" each other.
- Put a
profile and photo on your Twitter page, then import your
email contacts to Twitter and start following them. See
who they follow, and soon you'll start building your own
Twitter is about conversation. Share links, answer
questions, talk to other users - don't just toot your
- Focus on
quality, not quantity. Better to have a several hundred
followers who really matter than several thousand who
companies can use Twitter to alert customers to
discounts, sales and promotions. B2C companies can use
it to follow industry leaders, prospective customers,
competitors. You should follow the large corporate
marketers who often share information and special
- Use 3rd
party applications to navigate Twitter or it's all too
easy to get overwhelmed. Visit
http://twitter.com/downloads to find free apps.
Popular apps include Tweetdeck, HootSuiteSeesmic.
Most experts agree it's a necessity to create a blog -
especially if you own a B2B company and want to raise your
profile as an industry expert. It's likely much easier than
you think to start blogging.
- Use simple
software to build your blog. Wordpress is the most
popular. TopTenReviews has a useful side-by-side
comparison of blogging software.
- Figure out
your focus and be ready to post two or three times a
- Keep your
posts short and your tone conversational and
other blogs in your industry, post comments there and
start to network.
your blog by submitting it to RSS and blog directories
such as Technorati, Yahoo, Alltop and Google.
Make sure you
have time to do your own blog; if you don't, build your
reputation by guest-blogging and leaving comments on key
industry blogs and include links to your website. Your blog
entries should be clearly written, grammatically correct and
typo-free. People will judge you from reading your blog -
make sure you don't give them the wrong impression.
Make It Work
Spread the word about your social media efforts by including
links to your accounts on your website, in your marketing
materials and in your email signature. Include your social
media addresses on your business cards and letterhead.
As you begin to
explore social media, you'll figure out which sites and
tactics work best for you. (Don't overlook YouTube; it's the
world's 2nd largest search engine.) Because social media
consumes a lot of time, you should regularly reassess your
ROI and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and
consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow
their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and
visit SmallBizDaily to sign up for her free TrendCast