Sunday, January 5, 2014

Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Business

social media marketing tipsIf you’re running your own small business, then you’ve probably given some thought to social media and how to incorporate it in your broader marketing plans. If you are one of those small business owners who find themselves a little confused by the hype associated with social media, then read on. 

Gaynor Parke is a passionate social media specialist and digital marketing strategist who runs a business based in Sydney, NSW called Social Media Mamma.
Gaynor believes that less stress equals more success. She says that stress is the killer of creativity and productivity and she helps clients create Social Media strategies that can meet both personal and professional needs. With over 25 years of sales and business experience, Gaynor is in her element teaching business owners how to develop their business using the relationship marketing techniques that Social Media provides.

I recently invited Gaynor to share a few social media marketing tips with us - as well as to share some of her business experience:

1. What motivated you to start your own business Gaynor?

 I started playing with Facebook as a means of communication with my married children back in early 2009. I quickly discovered how powerful it could be for business so I created my wedding directory FIND IT For Weddings. As the business took off I realized I could teach other business owners how to successfully use Facebook to market their own businesses.

It might sound corny but Social Media Marketing led me to the fulfilment of a childhood dream, to become a teacher. Thus my Social Media Mamma business was born. Here I can combine business and personal development. You see you really can’t separate the two. Who we are shapes our business and our business impacts our lives. When you understand more about how a person ticks you are much more proficient at helping them grow their business.

  2. What were the biggest “start-up” challenges and difficulties you had to overcome in your own business during the first 1 - 2 years?

 I don’t think I am all that different from other people when I admit that self doubt was one of the biggest challenges I needed to overcome.

 As there were no courses back when I started using Facebook for business, I had to learn by trial and error. The upside of that is that everything I teach I have found to be successful first hand. No theory from a book - but real success from real efforts.

 Plus when you are on the leading edge of something new sometimes it’s tricky for businesses to see the value in your expertise. Most Australian businesses still don’t fully grasp the power of effective Social Media marketing, but at least there is increased awareness now and it is beginning to be taken much more seriously. It was an uphill battle in the early days, and sometimes still is, to explain how business can benefit from these new relationship marketing precepts.

3. Gaynor, you’ve advised many small business owners on how they can leverage social media – what are some of the common mistakes that small business makes with social media?

 i)  Immediacy. We all want to see immediate monetary results from our efforts. The biggest mistake that all newcomers to Social Media make is that they think they will just create an account and sales will roll in magically overnight. The reality is that Social Media is a long term investment.

Yes you may be able to create a fabulously viral marketing campaign and that may or may not result in an immediate upswing in sales. Mostly though, Social Media marketing is a race for the tortoise, not the hare. Continued consistency and great content, will definitely win the race.

ii)  Many people think that it’s all so easy and they don’t need help. After all, their children can help them create a Facebook page for business right? Wrong! There is always a right and wrong way of doing things that’s why there are professionals in any field. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come!

The right strategies and marketing plan along with a strong knowledge of the program you are using is vital to success. It’s all too easy to waste precious time and money floundering around and “playing” at Social Media rather than getting the right advice from the beginning.

iii)  Some small business owners think it’s all too hard. In fact Social Media is actually dialling back the clock to the old days of talking to the customer one-on-one over the counter. Business owners just need to see Social Media as real life communication only you just can’t see the other person.

Social Media has actually turned marketing on it’s head. Passive marketing just doesn’t cut it now-days. People want to know who is behind the business. They want to communicate and they want to be engaged. If you don’t communicate with them in their chosen digital space – then the likelihood is that they will simply go off and connect with one of your competitors.

To build trust and actually communicate first hand with customers is the “gold” that most business owners miss. Knowing your customer is priceless. The more you can get to know them via Social Media the more you can offer them products they really want to buy. Small business owners don’t need to be overwhelmed by it all – there are people around who can help you make sense of it.

4.  Do you have any tips on which social media platforms are best suited to different types of businesses ?

Business owners need to become very familiar with the profile of their customer and be clear about what they want to achieve. A simple place to start when you run a business is with a regular blog, producing fresh content that will interest your audience. This has many benefits including SEO and should be the hub of how you leverage your business via Social Media networks.

This demographic analysis of your customer will help decide where to place your Social Media marketing efforts. If you’re selling to women between the ages of 20 – 40 for example, I’d say Pinterest is a must. Users spend much more on Pinterest than on any other Network, have an income close to that of LinkedIn users and they spend more often.

Determining what resources are available to be allocated to your Social Media strategy will also determine what Network to use. Pinterest uses much less time and effort and generates more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined. However all platforms have their purpose and can be extremely effective when fully understood and the right strategies developed.

5. Some small business owners have complained to me they don’t receive an adequate ROI for the time they allocate to social media marketing – what are your thoughts Gaynor? 

It all depends on what you mean by ROI. Social Media is for the business owner who is in the long distance race and not the sprint. How do you measure the good will of a business? How do you measure the impact of not being seen as a professional business? I’m old enough to remember when people would ask “do I really need a website” and now everyone sees the benefits of a website.

Social Media gives the business owner access to so much priceless information. You can actually do your own market research and save thousands of dollars on otherwise failed products. You can communicate like never before with your potential customer. Newspaper advertising is declining because everyone is online. Magazines are going the same way. Even television must be feeling the pinch as it’s so easy to watch movies and shows online.

The question today is not whether you need to do Social Media, but how well are you doing it? If you’re not up to speed with the new marketing concepts you can be sure your competition is.

I believe that those businesses who feel that the ROI on Social Media isn’t sufficient don’t really understand how to use it effectively. Without fail, every client that I see, leaves me with the same comment, “ I had no idea it could do so much for my business”

6. In addition to social media of course, what other marketing strategies have you found most effective in growing and developing your own business?

Social Media IS my marketing tool. I have been approached to speak at networking events, to write articles, enjoyed large consulting roles, teaching positions and generate online sales - all via my Social Media marketing efforts.

7. Any final words of advice you would offer small business owners about how to grow their business?

Invest in advice from a professional from the start. I have seen too many small business owners lose money and put the reputation of their business in jeopardy due to acting upon poor advice from non-professionals. A Social Media professional can help you choose the right platform and help you create a Social Media marketing plan. The technicalities can be learned, but the golden success is found in knowing what strategies to apply and when.

The landscape of Social Media is changing so quickly and it can be a bit overwhelming. But almost anything can be easy when someone clearly shows you how - just don’t try and master everything at once.

If you don’t want to do Social Media marketing, what type of marketing are you going to do? Whatever you do in your small business, make sure you are directing your message to your target audience, speaking in their language, being consistent and  regularly measuring your impact. Marketing is crucial for your success; you just have to choose your communication medium and let the world know about your wonderful products and how it will help them.

Gaynor concludes by advising “I’ve found that when you focus on service, then the sales will take care of themselves!”.
Thanks Gaynor for taking the time to offer some great tips. Another related article that might be of interest is Marketing for Small Business

About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of a leadership training company Performance Development, based in Melbourne, Australia.  He is a qualified psychologist, experienced leadership coach and an engaging presenter, with a passion for helping people develop their full capabilities