Money Matters - Simplified

Sales, Growth, and Social Media

How can social media like Twitter, Facebook, Stumble Upon, etc. help small businesses grow. To find out, read on…
The rapid expansion of social media like Twitter, Facebook, etc. has, besides presenting plethora of marketing channels, brought about tremendous opportunities for businesses to reach, engage, connect with, and have an impact on the customers.

Small businesses need to develop online presence to grow and to connect with customers. As a result, we find many small businesses launching themselves into social media. For instance, Twitter has become the medium of choice to get things out quickly to numerous people.

Measuring Your Social Media Performance
Social media include blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Stumble Upon, etc., which are pretty easy to get into. But how do you know your online campaign is working or not?

In the article “6 Social Media Metrics for SMBs to Track” on smallbiztrends.com, Lisa Barone, co-founder and chief branding officer at Outspoken Media, Inc., talks about how to measure the progress of your campaigns.

The markers, she says, are increased awareness/mentions, sentiment analysis, how social users act, conversions and micro-conversions, links to your site, and new rankings.

Social media provide small businesses and entrepreneurs inexpensive ways to maintain their online presence. The social media campaigns can be tailored to meet different business goals, from generating new sales leads to expanding your customer base to sourcing ideas for new product development.

How Social Media Work
In addition to keeping track of all the markers and metrics that help your campaigns (see box), what distinguishes a small business is its approach to its followers/friends.

The rapid expansion of online technology has, besides presenting plethora of marketing channels, brought about tremendous opportunities for businesses to reach, engage, connect with, and have an impact on the customers.

However, more often than not, businesses use social media with all-out, full-bore emphasis on product or price. But that’s not what social media are about; that’s not how social media work.

Relationships in social media allow and build upon personal, emotional connection. They are not built on product, price, and the like. In fact, impersonal promotions of products or services on social media don’t bring in effective results.

Michael Stelzner in his post “How to Use Twitter to Grow Your Business,” quotes Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, as saying: “We’ve found that Twitter has been a great way for us to connect on a more personal level with our employees and customers.

“We use it to help build our brand, not drive direct sales. It’d be like asking how does providing a telephone number for customer service translate into new business when they are mostly non-sales-related calls.

“In the long term, Twitter helps drive repeat customers and word of mouth, but we’re not looking to it as a way of driving immediate sales.”

Listening In
You build relationships by listening, really listening to people out there. Listening provides context, builds trust, and enhances understanding. All these require time, patience, and planning.

On the New York Times’ ‘You’re the boss’ blog, MP Mueller writes in his post “More Tips From Social Media Pros” about the simple yet hugely effective way to go about social media. The post quotes Gary Vaynerchuk, a wine seller and social media rock star, as saying:

“Listening is the point. That’s why I took off. I answered people’s questions, created context, etc. Then they would click on my profile and would see who I was and what I did, and that’s how I built it, slow and steady.”

Social Media Allow Businesses to Have a Face
One more aspect of social media that helps businesses is that they can facilitate businesses to have personal, even one-to-one, connection.

Mueller’s same post also mentions Paul Carr, a columnist for TechCrunch, as saying: “If you are going to use social media, you need to do it properly. I don’t like it when a company tweets as a brand and not as a person.

“When I get a tweet from a bank or hotel or a brand, I don’t want to hear from this faceless entity. Who wants to follow bricks and mortar? You want to follow a person.”

All in all, technology helps businesses take off quickly, but good old values--telling and listening to stories around digital campfire--bring in results.