Does social media marketing really work for small business? Should every small business have a social media presence?
Yesterday, I attended an excellent webinar by HubSpot’s Kipp Bodnar: Small Business Guide to Social Media Marketing. The webinar and accompanying eBook, Generating Small Business Customers with Social Media Marketing looked at some best practices and lessons learned from interviewing several small business owners and examining research derived from the HubSpot customer base.
The burning question for resource-strapped small business owners is: “How can I make money and grow my business with social media?” Especially small businesses with limited time to do something more, who lack knowledge about social media tools and who may have limited understanding on how to tell their story.
In this webinar, Bodnar offered insights primarily from case studies of 4 small business (B2B and B2C) owners on how they overcame these challenges to achieve tangible business results. So, whether you’re just thinking about getting into social media for marketing your business, or have tried it and dropped it, these are a selection of the lessons learned from the webinar that could help you make the difference – and breathe new life into social media marketing for growing your small business.
1. One (passionate) person can make social media marketing work.
The 4 companies in the HubSpot small business case studies ranged from 1 to 300 employees. Obviously, if you’ve got a 300 employee company you have resources to utilize for blogging and engaging on Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks. But it’s not about the numbers. One person, even if that’s you as the business owner, with a burning desire to elevate your business can make it work.
Please note, I didn’t say to have a burning desire for social media. River Pools and Spas co-owner, Marcus Sheridan set out two years ago “to become the thought leader in the in-ground swimming pool industry through content creation and distribution.” He didn’t set out to be the guru of social media. His focus and passion was on growing his business and doing whatever it took to stand out above the rest.
This leads us to the next key lesson for growing your small business with social media marketing…
2. Find out what your customers want and give them that.
Too often I see people fail at social media marketing because they make it all about them – all of the time. On the flip side, if you can figure out what information your ideal customer wants, and give it to them in the form they wish to engage with it, you’ll be well on your way to drawing traffic and leads for your business.
Take again the example of Sheridan and River Pools and Spas who said “the real challenge is for businesses to put themselves in the heads of their customers.” This means to speak in terms your customers understand and are using in their search for your products and services. And not speaking in what has been referred to as Gobbledygook – industry jargon.
Instead, Sheridan set up their blog strategy to answer common questions they would typically get from their customers who were looking to have a swimming pool or spa built. Knowing these topics also lend themselves to visual images, the company created numerous how-to and educational videos (posted to YouTube and their website) on what goes into building and owning a swimming pool – stuff a prospective customer would certainly want to know about!
What are you doing to get inside the head of your customer to figure out what they want from you?
3. Know that you don’t have to do it all – do what works for you – but above all else – start blogging.
The last tip or lesson learned from these case studies I’ll share is that it’s okay to only engage with the vital few social media tools that work best for you. Feel better? After all, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et cetera are just tools. They are tools which have tremendous reach and many, many eyeballs (your potential audience) engaged with them. But they are only tools and tools will always change. These tools are not meant to generate leads for your business. Only you can do that through publishing the great content discussed in point #2 above. The tools only help to promote your content and bring potential customers to your home base – your business blog.
Want to improve organic search traffic and leads? Start blogging first, and then hook-up your audience to your content via social media. As Sheridan from River Pools and Spas advises us, “Start blogging today, if you’re not blogging you’re dying.” Results speaks volumes. In the course of one year Sheridan’s company reduced advertising spend by 70%, increased website traffic 300-400% on average and increased leads, especially via organic search by over 400%. How? By concentrating on blogging and YouTube videos posted to their website.
I hope this has stirred some ideas and instilled some hope for using social media marketing to grow your business. For more insights, best practices and lessons learned feel free to download the HubSpot small business case study: Generating Small Business Customers with Social Media Marketing. Or, watch the webinar.
But don’t stop there…
Do this now:
- Open your mind to new marketing methods and re-kindle the passion you have for doing whatever it takes to dramatically grow your business.
- Do some market research to figure out what your customers really want and how they want it.
- Devote some time to starting up a successful blog and engage with social media tools to publish and promote this content.