Monday, May 28, 2012

Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

Hello World,

A really long time and no see at all....well, I am Back!!!   ;)    

I have recently gained interest in social media marketing. Having run facebook campaigns myself, I thought it's time I share with you my experience. Nothing special but this is just my perspective of Social Media Marketing. If you have a business, or looking to start a new business, or you just like to spend a lot of time on facebook, then I guess you would get a new perspective on the topic. 

Marketing is a key component for any business and for small businesses, it is the main component. The main reason being that large businesses are more visible and cover a large region of the land whereas small businesses, often times, have to start with their local region and a limited market. Reaching out to the customers is always the priority and not all small businesses have the financial freedom to use the conventional high-priced media. The advent of social media has transformed the world for good and this means a lot to small businesses. Now small businesses can reach out to a large audience of their choice and don’t have to spend a lot in the process.

Social media have their ways and therefore it is important for small businesses to understand their properties before using them for their marketing efforts.

Ministry without Minister
Social media have connected a large number of people and are connecting more and more as time passes by. The users of social media are not connected to a single source. This is the specialty of social media. This means that information can be produced at multiple points and gets distributed through multiple networks of users. A cool YouTube video can be shared through facebook, twitter and google+ at the same time and each media can have the users share that video with their friends and so on. So it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a YouTube account. You still get to see YouTube videos on your facebook newsfeed. With advancement in mobile phone technology, users are now always in touch with social media. Small businesses can now leverage this property of social media and reach out to a large audience without having to spend on the heavily centralized industrial media.

Everyone’s Invited
You don’t have to get 15 approvals and 25 certifications for starting a facebook page for your business. The industrial media has tools that are not accessible to everyone. That’s the key strength of social media. Small businesses can now make creative “Cover Photos” for their facebook page and send their message loud and clear to all of their fans. A still camera for pictures, a handycam for videos and your creative studio is all set to roll out creative content for your social media marketing campaign!!! A lot of small businesses hire professionals for the purpose which is also an option dependent on the marketing budget.

Say No to Godfather
Industrial media requires technical expertise to operate but social media does not demand that expertise. Any additional graphic design support can add value to the marketing campaign but there is always an easy workaround for that. Anyone with a good command of Adobe Suite and social media can perform social media marketing. There is free software for almost everything from sound recording to video production.  The key is not technology but “Application” of the same. If you can figure out creative ways to blend your facebook profile picture with your cover picture, you are eligible for induction into the creative brotherhood of graphic design!!!  There are online tools like hootsuite, crowdbooster etc. available for social media marketing. Schedule your posts and keep track of how far you are reaching your audience.

“Now” Marketing
With social media, whatever happens, happens at that moment unlike a newspaper print that may take one night before reaching the audience. So instantaneous reach out is possible with social media. Small businesses can send information with a simple twitter update or a pinterest pin-up. The key is to stay current and varied. Variety is always welcomed and if it is related to current events, the fire stays long. Mention your business’s support to local community development events to show people that your business actually cares about the local community. Corporate Social Responsibility is the key to entrepreneurial growth in the coming generation and all Small Businesses are looking to incorporate that into their core business model. Look for events that might interest your audience and have status updates reminding them of the event or your organization’s appreciation for it. If your audience can relate to the event, then your message has been successfully delivered.

Short Lived “Forever”
With social media, nothing is forever until mentioned so over and over again. If something comes out in print, it stays and the impact of the first print takes a long time to wear out but with social media, you are just a status update far from a change of news. It has to be noted that anything done online stays online and can cause troubles later. An honest approach to social media marketing would avoid this scenario altogether. Mistakes happen all the time. If we take responsibility and rectify it, it gets back to normal very soon. So small businesses need to be aware that with social media, any marketing disaster is possible but the recuperation is also equally quick. The key is to have a good, comprehensive social media marketing strategy for your small business which clearly mentions the Do’s and Don’ts that keeps the marketing efforts from getting carried away.

Tao of Social Media Marketing
Connecting with your customers is just the first step of social media marketing. How they are engaged and entertained is the real game. Therefore, packaging the information to be conveyed is the key. The social media audience has very small attention span and a craving for attractive yet simple content.
Instead of an old-school print ad that says “Discover the best,” a simple youtube video of you explaining your product/service would give your small business, a personal touch. It can be flashy if you decide to make a flashy video but it is ok if it is not flashy. By publishing a YouTube video, you have given a personal image to your business which adds credibility to your message. Your audience would know they are going to work with “You.” Remember taxi driver Devesh Mishra? He is a taxi driver from Banaras who shot to fame with his YouTube video. His video has over 42000 hits so far and that video is not a HD musical extravaganza. A simple speech by him done outdoors is all it is. A lot of his international clients get to know him through his social media presence. 

If you are a small business with experts in your team, have them speak about their work and publish those videos. Your customers would get a clear image of what they might get when they see the responsible one speaking about it.

If you have a small business and like to go big in reaching out to your customers, embrace social media for affordable and unconventional marketing. Prepare your social media marketing strategy and follow it for effective marketing. At all times, you need to know where you are, where you wish to be and where you are headed right now. Don’t restrict yourself to one medium. The idea always is to have your message available through multiple channels and in diverse formats. Take it step by step, one step at a time. The greatest investment in any marketing campaign would be patience and open-mindedness. Let your creativity rule your marketing campaign and have fun connecting with your customers. Wish you all the best.

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