Q&A: Small Business Social Media Strategies
Q) What are some things small businesses can do to improve their visibility and attractiveness to new customers?
Cindy Ratzlaff: Social networking and online presence play a big role here. Gather testimonials from satisfied customers that you can use in print and online. Also, ask customers to “like” you on Facebook, endorse you on LinkedIn, and post positive reviews on sites such as Yelp. I’ve seen studies showing that, depending on the purchase, between 55% and 90% of consumers will research a product and/or company online. So legitimate reviews are important.
Q) Can you give an example of your suggestion of sharing struggles as a means for engaging followers?
If you’re stuck trying to figure out your next offering, tell your followers you want to provide even more value and aren’t sure what to do next. By asking them to help you decide, you first reveal that you’ve got multiple new possible products. And second, you invite them to co-create with you. Ask their opinions each step of the way. In the end, they’ll be emotionally attached to your launch. Thank them for their input, and give them a special “insider offer.” And ask them to help you spread the word at launch time.
Q) You’ve written that you have to “find in order to be found.” What does that mean?
Find and follow others like you. Be visible to them by commenting, praising, and sharing their stuff with your followers, and they’ll do the same for you. I follow 100–200 new people on Twitter every day. I find at least one new page on Facebook to view, like, and comment on every day. I share at least one person’s links or posts every day.
Q) Is there a way to determine how often one should post/tweet?
Some studies indicate that posting at certain times helps your posts to be seen by more people, but there is no magic formula. I post to Facebook daily, seven days a week before 8 a.m. Eastern Time. I post to Twitter five times per day at regular intervals, specifically during times I believe that the average businessperson is taking a break and surfing social media—before work, mid-morning, lunchtime, mid-afternoon, and after supper.
Q) What current/emerging social media trends should small businesses be watching? Graphics and video are the most important resources in your small business marketing tool kit now. They rank higher in search than just words. Make finding a graphics design resource a top priority, and don’t be afraid to try adding video to your marketing mix.
This article appears courtesy of SCORE, Mentors to America’s Small Business. Get free advice from more than 12,000 volunteer business mentors in more than 340 chapters across the nation at www.score.org. Cindy Ratzlaff was named by Forbes as one of the "20 Best Branded Women on Twitter," and Forbes Woman called her one of the "Most Influential Women Tweeting about Entrepreneurship." She is a regular contributor to BusinessInsider.com's War Room, writing on social media and marketing strategy, and her essays have appeared on Oprah.com, CNN.com and Wowowow.com, among others. Ratzlaff is a 20-year veteran of the book publishing industry, having worked for or consulted to Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, Rodale Inc., Meredith, National Geographic, Macmillan and Oxmoor House.