SMB New Year’s Resolution: Ramp Up Your Social Media Marketing

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Two Solitudes is an award winning novel written by Hugh MacLennan in 1945, which depicts one of Canada’s most challenging dichotomies:  the economic and social divide between the English and French.

In Two Solitudes – Part II, the thesis of which follows in this article, I am going to highlight a new Canadian dichotomy, namely the marketing proficiency between Fortune 1000 companies and that of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Maybe “proficiency” is the wrong word, because the marketing that large organizations do is hardly proficient.  Maybe the right word is “waste” or even “inefficiency.”  The Fortune 1000 has long been the bastion of brand building, with large in-house marketing teams, a slew of agencies selling every manner of marketing service, and a host of consultants and experts ready to bang out a marketing strategy.  On the other hand, SMB owners haven’t had the opportunity, or specifically, the resources to do the same.  The SMB segment has often struggled in terms of building their brands and/or having access to strong support services and experts.  Typically, this segment is served by freelancers or in-house staff who work on a part-time basis.  There has been a palpable inequity.

Until now.

With the growth and utility of social media as a marketing tactic, small and medium-size businesses have an unparalleled opportunity to build a global brand.  Last year, we wrote that SMBs can benefit significantly from implementing social media and “social media is like word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.”   Using free or relatively inexpensive platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., small businesses can access and develop global communities and in turn, converse directly with prospective buyers of their products and services.

Social media represents a transcendent marketing force, much like mass TV advertising in the 50’s, direct marketing in the 70’s, and the Internet and websites in the 90’s.  For SMBs, it is no longer a question of “if,” but one of “how and when?” The statistics really speak for themselves:

  • 86 per cent of companies worldwide have a Facebook and Twitter page.
  • 90 per cent of businesses are on Facebook, and of these, two-thirds post more than once per week.
  •  Social media accounts for 18 per cent of time spent online.
  • 42 per cent of companies have acquired at least one new customer through Twitter.
  • 83 per cent of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to reach prospects and communicate with customers.

“That’s great,” you say, so how does a small company with few resources and limited funds get started?  It does take some effort to get going, so here are a few simple steps:

  1. First and foremost, conduct an evaluation of your current and prospective customers.  Where are they located?  How do they buy?  How do they like to be communicated to?  Do they use social media, and if so, which channels?
  2. Second, figure out which social media channels can best connect with your customers given where they are and how they communicate.  You don’t need to be on all social media channels – just the ones that your customers and prospects typically use.
  3. Next, develop your story.  What does your brand stand for?  How do you add value to your customers?  What do your customers like about you?  Plan out your content and determine what you are going to say and in which channels you are going to say it.
  4. Align the social media plan to your overall marketing plan.  For example, if you are have a retail promotion, if you are introducing a new product, if you are launching a redesigned website, etc., you can leverage social media to amplify and drive customers to these activities.
  5. At the beginning, focus on building your community.  Build your fans, likes, and followers, by offering engaging content through your social media channels on a frequent basis.
  6. And finally, measure what you are doing.  Which channels are working well?  What type of content gets the most engagement?  How much traffic are you driving to your website?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  By nature, social media is a trial and error type of media.  You may post something that no one takes notice of, but another post may be shared and re-shared many times.  The key is to get out there and get started.

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