Tag Archives: small business

How To Adopt A Social Media Lifestyle

While most small business owners are starting to realize that social media is a necessary part of any marketing strategy, as a social media coach, the question I get most often is how to add social media to a day that is already way too full.   For those of us working as solopreneurs or small business owners, it may, at times, feel like we are working virtually around the clock so when are we really supposed to tweet, post or blog?

I’ll admit, creating a social media plan that will stick is like starting an exercise program.  You just have to take that leap and do it. You need to look at it, not as a series of social media tasks that need to be done during the day, but more of a lifestyle change that you need to incorporate into your entire way of thinking. Here are 5 tips to make the social media lifestyle change:

  • Coffee and Twitter: For most of us, a morning cup of coffee is sacred. Without one, our day cannot get off to a good start.  Try to incorporate tweeting with your morning coffee, Instead of reading the newspaper, read your stream to find interesting articles to share with your followers.  If you still need to read the paper, know that most publications these days are online and make sharing with your networks very easy. In addition to coffee first thing in the morning, take a moment or two to tweet during your mid-morning or mid-afternoon coffee break as well.
  • Change the way you look at the world: Instead of walking through your day with blinders on, as most of us do, focused on the tasks we need to get done, try looking at the world with a different set of eyes.  Examine everything — images, articles, conversations you have with co-workers — and use it as fodder for posts, blogs and tweets.  This doesn’t mean that you need to be online all day, it just means changing the way you think to include a social media aspect to your day. Taking mental notes to save for your social media coffee breaks.
  • Blog on the weekend: We all know that blogging for business is one of the most important factors to getting found online. It improves our SEO, increasesour professional credibility and lets our audience know who we are and how we interact.  Blogging can also be the most time consuming part of any social media plan.  During your busy workday, as your taking in everything that is going on around you, take mental notes and save the blogging for the weekend when our schedule is more open. Most social dashboards will allow you to schedule posts to go live at a later time.
  • Set an alarm: In adopting a social media lifestyle, it works to break your social media plan into bite-sized chunks, making it more manageable during the course of a busy day.  At first, it may take some time to incorporate the social media lifestyle into your work day so setting alarms to remind you to take social media breaks – which are just as necessary as a coffee or bathroom break, can help at the beginning.
  • Be mobile: I can’t stress enough how being mobile – whether it’s with an iPad, smartphone or laptop, can help integrate social media into your lifestyle. Whether it’s waiting in line at the bank, riding the bus or taking a 5 minute water cooler break, being mobile help you to stay connected, with the ability to tweet or post right at your fingertips.

When you decide to include social media into your business and marketing strategy, it is important to be consistent and be present in order to truly engage your audience and increase your online visibility.  By adopting social media into your lifestyle, by taking short social media breaks to tweet or post, by leaving your blogging to the weekend and by looking at the world with a “social media eye,” it prevents you from feeling spread too thin – a feeling that most small business owners know all to well. 

How the Small Retailer Can Use Social Media

Using Social Media for the Small RetailerAs a social media coach, it always baffles me when I hear the small business owner question how and why they need a social media strategy.  And I do hear it a lot.  Especially from retail owners.  As I was getting ready today, I picked up a bottle of Sephora lotion.  Holding it in my had, I looked at the name Happy Birthday Beautiful Vanilla Birthday Cake Lotion.  As I stared at the bottle, it hit me.  Sephora had it right.

The reason I had the body lotion was because my birthday is next week and I received my yearly, happy birthday e-mail from Sephora letting me know that I could come in and pick up my free birthday gift (the lotion).   I’m always excited to get a free (no purchase necessary) gift so this past weekend I braved the Christmas crowds, went down to the mall and walked into Sephora.  I’m not sure if you have ever been to Sephora but (for me, anyway) it’s impossible to walk in without taking way too much time to look at tall the new beauty products, creams, lotions, nail polishes and stuff.  So, before I went to the register to get my free (no purchase necessary) gift, I had a look around.  Needless to say I left the store with my free birthday gift, along with a big bag of other (not so free) goodies.  I had done well. But so had Sephora.

Retail use of social mediaThe Gap has it right, too.  I get weekly e-mail coupons from them ranging from 15-60% off products storewide. I use these coupons religiously when I shop. By incorporating social media as part of their marketing strategies, these large retail owners have made sure, through accumulating large e-mail lists and offering low and no cost incentives to those who frequent their store, that they are always on their customers minds.

But how, as a small business owner, can you compete with these retail giants? One of the benefits of creating and maintaining an effective social media strategy is that, with a bit of hard work and perseverance, it doesn’t need to cost a lot.  Whenever I go downtown, I make a stop at my favorite ice cream shop.  By using Foursquare to check in, I get 10% of my order.  By liking the Facebook page of an independent gas station in my area, I receive updates of when the gas is going to be offered at a lower price. I can print out online coupons from a pretty good (not the best – but the best offers no incentives) Chinese restaurant that range from 5-15% of my order.  QR codes can go a long way in getting your online and offline marketing strategies in synch. These are all concrete ways that the local small business can use social media to reach, engage, and capture potential customers.  Using tools like Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp can increase your visibility both online and offline.  It seems silly NOT to use social media.

Now I’m not going to lie to you. Using social media, until you can find your footing, is time consuming and a bit scary.  Most business owners don’t really know where to start or think that if they put up a Facebook page, thousands of Fans will flock to their page and their business will increase overnight.  This will probably not happen.  Just having a Twitter account but not having anyone to tweet regularly and effectively will likely not benefit your business at all. However, with a well thought our strategy with a clear goal of why you want to be online, will definitely help propel your business in the right direction.

So today, as I use my free Happy Birthday Beautiful Birthday Lotion from Sephora, I am reassured again of the power of social media.  The lotion, to me, is proof of how well it can work.

How To Create An Online Inventory By Blogging

bloggingI was on a Google+ Hangout with some friends and colleagues this morning as part of the Dialing 8 project and the discussion turned to the necessity of blogging. Why did we need to blog? Who was going to read what we wrote and how would that help generate business? This is a question I think about a lot. Blogging is hard for many people. It’s time consuming, frustrating and a little nerve-wracking knowing that people are going to read what you write. And nerve-wracking to think that they’re NOT going to read what you write.

In talking about why blogging is so important to growing your audience and converting prospects to actual customers, it’s important to understand that, simply speaking, blogging is content marketing. Content Marketing, in the words of my friend Mike Sansone, is our online inventory. Without any online inventory, we will not be found. It’s as simple as that. Each blog post, each podcast, each video has its own unique web page. The more web pages with our names on them that are out there, the easier we will be to find (or for Google to help us be found).

When thinking about how to blog, or how to create content, it doesn’t need to be complicated. Basically, effective content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects. Research shows that content drives the Internet, and consumers are looking for information, rather than sales pitches. If you deliver material that enlightens, solves problems, informs and entertains your audience, you make them more intelligent.

But how do you create a business blog that people will want to read? How do you learn to write in a voice that people will listen to? The best blogging advice is to write the way you want to read. Create interesting relevant content in an authentic voice. Even in a business blog it’s okay to show people that you are human. Business blogs don’t need to be anonymous and impersonal. Write material that will engage your audience and elicit comments. Stop worrying whether people will read what you write. It’s unlikely that people will read your blog, at first, anyway. Consider the first two months a practice run until you start being found. Most importantly, be consistent. Develop a schedule that you can live with and stick to it. It’s better to be at the party and stand in the corner than not to show up at all.

Blogging is the core factor in developing a content marketing strategy designed to engage your audience and grow your network. While it isn’t easy to take that first step to start blogging, if you remember to be consistent, be authentic, add value and know your audience, it will undoubtedly help you develop a business blog that will create awareness over time and achieve value for your business.