The big trend changing business now is social media. It’s something that no business, no matter how small, can ignore. That includes printers. Tapping into social networks is a way for small businesses to reach a bigger market. In this uber-connected age, people are online, talking about your company, whether you like it or not.
If you’re not engaging in the conversation, you could be losing customers, or missing out on new ones.
The first and most obvious step is to assess the assets. Who are the targets of the business? How big is the market? They might seem like obvious questions but hard analysis could reveal that the market is bigger than you first thought.
The next step is to sign up for social media. Businesses will now target Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn. They all have unique qualities.
YouTube is important because it’s the second-most visited site in Australia. Many companies use online video to promote their products and services. Say a printer introduces new innovations around recycled stocks. Putting something like that on YouTube would attract instant attention. That makes online video perfect for marketing a business or a particular campaign.
Facebook is good for creating conversations with customers. With Facebook, you can create a page for your business. Twitter can be used to provide updates. Google+ brings more traffic to a website and potentially gives the company a better Google ranking. On LinkedIn, every employee can potentially become the best advocate and ambassador for the business. They can use LinkedIn to extend the brand of the business into their networks.
With social media, you can post updates of what you’re doing or even photos. On YouTube, you can post videos of your business, customer experiences and encourage clients to make their own. It is important to share these on other social media outlets like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. The aim is to get people to ‘Like’ or subscribe to your updates, generating greater brand awareness.
Many companies look around for bloggers, city officers, counsellors, local personalities and industry figures. Connecting with influencers means following their blogs, and posting comments, following them on Twitter, retweeting their tweets or even getting in touch with them via email. If they share your posts and updates, it has the potential to reach into new markets and it will definitely increase your profile. But it is important to remember that your first priority should be about developing a relationship with these people, not about pitching your products and services. Social media is about relationships and people. So is business.
The business should also be looking at appointing someone to manage social media activities. This will allow the company to review the success of the various social media campaigns and survey all mentions of the brand, who is picking it up and where the interest is coming from.
Social media is about developing good and useful relationships. Spend too much time spruiking your product and brand and no one will listen.
Leon Gettler is a senior business journalist who writes for a range of leading newspapers and journals
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