Posted on February 6, 2012
Filed Under (Advice, Marketing, Social Media) by jennifer

While there are many benefits to using social media, having a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, and/or a Google+ account and regularly posting to them does not guarantee your small business social media success — that is, more customers and sales. You want to know the real secret to Facebook and Twitter success? Absorb these 6 Inconvenient Truths About Social Media.

1. It helps if you are famous or well-known outside of Facebook or Twitter. The reason celebrities, athletes, successful entrepreneurs/business owners and venture capitalists have so many Facebook and Twitter followers? It’s not because they’re Facebook posts or tweets are so brilliant or informative. It’s because the people whose names are on the Facebook and/or Twitter account are famous, and people (both famous and not famous) love to attach themselves to famous people. So unless you are a star in your industry, don’t expect people to follow you as if you were one, even if your Facebook posts and/or tweets are stellar.

2. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Not famous or well-known outside your family and circle of friends? If you have a famous or well-connected friend or family member — people Malcom Gladwell referred to as Connectors (well-connected people) and Salesmen (people who are good at influencing buying decisions and opinions) in his book The Tipping Point — that’s almost as good. Just make sure these Connectors and/or Salesmen (or Saleswomen) believe in your brand and are comfortable posting about your products or service on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t want them sounding like paid endorsers.

3. It’s not quantity but quality, though quantity doesn’t hurt. Let’s face it, we’re all impressed (at least most of us) when we see someone with lots of Facebook and/or Twitter followers. But as many small business owners (larger ones too) will tell you, it’s not the number of people following you, it’s the quality. That is, it’s better to have 500 Twitter followers who believe in your brand, have lots of connections, and retweet posts they like than 10,000 followers who each average 100 connections, never retweet, and are unlikely to buy from you. So instead of focusing on the number of Facebook and Twitter followers you have or would like to have, focus on getting the kind of Facebook and Twitter followers you’d like to have, by following them and thoughtfully commenting on their posts.

4. Delegating only goes so far. While it’s perfectly okay to hire someone to regularly update your Facebook page and post on Twitter, especially if they love your business or products or service, you should be monitoring what is being said about your business on social media — and making sure whomever is managing your social media presence is doing a good job and accurately portraying your business. Also, try to post yourself, as much as possible. People like hearing from the boss.

5. It’s not what’s in it for you; it’s what’s in it for them (i.e., your customers). Instead of telling customers how great your business or your products are, provide information that will pique their interest — make them think or laugh or reply (to a question). For example, if you own a bakery, maybe ask “Which pie should we feature this Friday: Key lime, Boston cream, or cherry? The pie with the most votes wins!” And be sure to let people know which pie was chosen. Similarly, if you are on Foursquare, think about offering people who voted for the winning pie a free or discounted slice. Another good social media tactic: offer Facebook or Twitter-only discount codes or promotions.

6. Be prepared for a lot of criticism and vitriol. When you use Facebook and Twitter for business, be prepared to hear a lot of negative things — and have a strategy for dealing with complaints. Facebook and Twitter can be wonderful customer relationship management (CRM) tools, but you have to know how to use them — and not ignore or rebuke those customers with negative things to say. Instead, turn negative comments or complaints into opportunities, using Facebook and Twitter to find out what’s wrong and make it right.

Have additional tips for how small business owners can successfully use social media? Please leave a comment.

(2) Comments    Read More