In my neck of the woods, Mick Galuski is doing all kinds of little things to try out social media. He’s a comic shop owner. Every Wednesday, I get a direct message or a twitpic showing me the week’s comics that I’m really going to want to pick up. Awesome, personalized service!
I write quite often from the perspective of larger company social media and business communications. That’s because most of my clients are large companies. However, these social tools allow a small business owner a lot in the way of advantages, and I want to put together a little map of steps I might take if I were running a small business and wanted more sales.
- Start a blog – I can’t think of any simpler website technology to start and master, and there are cheap and free platforms readily available. Why a blog? Because they’re easy to create, because they’re easy to update, because they encourage repeat visits, and because you can use them in many flexible ways. Need a good website address (URL)? Pick a name out at Ajaxwhois.com, which lets you search many variations at the same time. Then, click through to buy the domain at GoDaddy.com, and then decide if you want to buy hosting there, or from another site. The company Bloghost.me, run by my friend Andy Quayle, offers $10/year hosting for WordPress blogs. I think that’s pretty reasonable. You?
- Start listening – People are talking about you. Find out where they are and who they are. When you’re done with that, start finding new business opportunities. People tweeting or blogging about being in your neck of the woods? Reach out, if it makes sense. Free advice on how to grow bigger ears.
- Try Twitter OR Facebook – Let’s not rush things. Facebook has many more users, but it’s a bit harder to find customers, prospects, partners and colleagues. Twitter is easier to use and faster to connect with people, but there are far fewer users on there today. I’ll let you choose. If you go with Facebook, make a personal account under your own name, and then start a fan page for your business.
- Get the word out – If you’re going to spend time building these social sites, let’s presume that you want more people to contact you and interact with you through them. Print business cards with the company name, and/or the request for people to join your fan page or follow you on Twitter. Extra points if you give them a social-media-tool-only discount of some kind.
- Try moving the needle – now lets really get crazy. See if you can fill the place up with social-media minded folks. Okay, this won’t work for every business, but don’t be too quick to count out the idea. Let’s try inviting them to a store-only special event, or let’s give them a discount code. You know, the stuff you already know how to do. Any difference in the results? See if you can do some kind of really special one-day-only push, and what that brings to you.
There’s obviously much more to it than just starting and doing, or is there? One way that small businesses get all confused and thrown for a loop is by feeling a strong sense of analysis paralysis, or that notion that they should be using all the tools right out of the gate.
The reason I started with a blog is that it will give instant search juice to the organization. It doesn’t mean your company will rise to the very top listing right away, and there’s so much more to it than that, but starting with any presence is better than having none.
The Most Important Part
A good 15,000 of you reading this already know the above. You get it. Here’s my request: pass this on to a small business owner you know. If you think it’s reasonable advice, pass it on to someone who hasn’t really started yet, and then offer to help them get it off the ground.
Sound fair? That’s why I wrote it. I’d love for your help.
Photo credit freeparking