This weekend on Down To Business with Bobby Kerr on Newstalk we looked at Social Media and the role it plays in the promotion of the SME and the SME website. We were joined by Noel Davidson, the GM of QED training with his insights as an expert on Social Media as a business tool for SMEs.
The numbers are astronomical, FaceBook with a billion users, and Twitter and Google+ with over 300 million users. WIth more than half the world’s online population using FaceBook, social networks are an integral part of most users daily online experience. And there is an emerging trend that sees activity on social networks becoming more visual – Instagram and Vine are good examples The word becomes less important, and the picture more so – telling a story, stating a cause or offering a deal. Words or pictures though, over 40% of business owners think social media is important to their business.
Connect with those you already know
So how do you connect with people who may be good for business? And that’s not just potential customers, but reviewers, journalists and other valuable connections. The best starting point is your own connections – when FaceBook presents you with the email tool to connect with your own address book, grab it with both hands. Logic dictates that you’ll have things in common with people you know – and they will likely be more disposed to buying from you or recommending you, so tell them you’re in business.
Tell me you’re here
It sounds simplistic – but put yourTwitter username and FaceBook page name on your website, in your shop, on your correspondence – anything that your customers see, should highlight your social activity. If you own a taxi and I see you’re glove-box sticker advertising your list (with photos!) of celeb customers and 10% off the next fare, will I look you up? Of course I will.
If you’re here, be active
How often should you post, Tweet or Google Plus something? On Twitter daily is good – twenty times a day is too much – people will look past your posts, but once or twice a day shows you’re active but not over-active. FaceBook probably needs less activity, but your Tweets can feed on to FaceBook – so posting on one can help you appear active on the other. Google Plus, which is becoming more and more important is also ideal for daily activity. Don’t look frantic – but look like you’re keen to stay in touch.
What do I say?
Opinions are always valid, and there isn’t as much opinion on the web as you’d think – there’s lots of re-hashed content and copy and pasting – but if you see something that catches your eye, something you like, or not, say so. Don’t overdo the sales pitch. Ask yourself what would you like out of a specific week or month? Do you want people talking about a new product or service you have? Be emotional and appeal to the emotions of you followers. It’s easy for followers to be passive – but stir their emotions and you’ll get their attention.
Tweet your excitement – post photos of how you’re customers are using your products, ask for Vine videos of how people are consuming your product – give away a free one – but make it quirky. Ask for Tweets on who should get a bouquet of flowers, or a bottle of wine or your particular widget – you’ll connect not just with your Twitter following, but maybe with the connections of the nominee.
Winning, rewarding, admiring – emotion matters, social emotion spreads, like wild-fire.
Time or location based Social media works for lunchtime specials or Saturday bookings. Don’t think that you have to be shocking but it is a noisy world – so you must grab attention – and involving the user or volunteer or customer in a real-world experience adds a new element to the transaction – if you tempt people out of their shell they will talk about it later – and so will their friends or spouses if they had to volunteer to look a bit silly or push themselves. You’re connection will go on connecting after the event.
The new darling of social
YouTube is the world’s biggest search engine after Google – and I did a radio piece recently about the rise of the YouTube persona – the pace at which video activity, both posting and viewing is growing is startling. So what’s in it for the SME? If you’re an SME like sortmybooks.com, you can use the webinar to great effect. Run weekly events on your topic of expertise then post them to your YouTube channel; I use Google Hangouts for this which automates the whole ‘live to recorded’ upload process. If you sell ingredients create a video of you cooking with your products – do it once a week, people will subscribe, refer and talk about you.
And, don’t be the same…
Everyone’s using social media and it is only growing in relevance for the business owner, but resist the temptation to just do what everyone else is doing. There is a lot of the same on business FaceBook business pages and there’s a lot of ‘new product just arrived’ tweets. Whatever industry or sector you’re in, to be noticed you must be different – so think before you Tweet and don’t let your message fade in to the white noise of the web.