You own a small business. You work hard and you’re good at what you do. Marketing and promotion? Not really your thing. Necessary nonetheless.
You notice your competition, a few of your friends, even the landscaping company you hired last week, they’re all using social media – Facebook fans, Twitter followers, LinkedIn networks – all this “liking”, “tweeting”, and “connecting” is making you anxious.
Is this a boat you’re about to miss or has the ship already sailed? Maybe you can’t make sense of it all because it just doesn’t make sense for you. Social media can’t be for everyone, can it?
Fret not. There are experts you can turn to. Experts like Juhli Selby of Juhli Selby Social Media. “Born to connect with people, and to help people connect with others”, Juhli guides small-business owners through the unfamiliar terrain of social media.
Juhli can help you find the best social media tools for your business and figure out how to make the darn things work. The ultimate goal – what’s you authentically, and how do we represent that online?
A vivacious blend of enthusiasm and technical know-how about all things social media, Juhli has a steady stream of anecdotes, statistics, and stories she loves to share.
Juhli’s Top 5 Social Media Mistakes You Can Avoid
1. Be transparent – Social media is about building relationships. The goal is to get people to know, like, and trust you. How can we know, like, and trust you if we can’t tell who you are? Use a real picture. If you insist on using a logo, make it easy for us to tell who the voice behind the logo is.
2. Persevere – Too many people give up too soon. Building relationships takes time, and yes, the ‘c’ word, commitment. You need to be in it for the long haul. Decide to do what it takes and do it. That includes putting in the time and effort, even when you can’t tell if it’s working. Like most things in life, you’ll get out of it what you put into it.
3. Have a plan – It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be clear. What do you want your social media efforts to achieve? What’s the best way to prioritize your time? What are your measures of success? Don’t use every tool just because you can. Find the tools that work best for you, and figure out how to get the most out of them. Seek expert advice. What you spend in dollars, you’ll save in time and frustration.
4. Pull don’t push – Traditional advertising won’t work. If pushing your product is all you’re doing, nobody is going to listen. Social media is not selling. It’s about giving people an opportunity to know, like, and trust you. Who are you when you’re not working? What makes you interesting? The librarian who steps outside the library and lets her hair down – what does she have to say? People want to get to know you.
5. Be sincere – Automated responses are handy, but they’re not human. People can tell the difference. Make your responses personal. Use names. Add comments or suggestions, nothing lengthy or long-winded, just a quick couple of words to let people know you noticed them: “Great graphics on your website”, “Love your Facebook page”. Flattery will get you everywhere, if you mean it. Again, people can tell the difference.
Juhli’s Top 5 Social Media Tools You Should Know About
1. Google Places Page – Claim your google places page. Just do it. It doesn’t cost a thing. If you’re an established business, it’s already there. When people use google’s search engine to look for your business, it’s one of the first things they find. You can add photos, video, details, recommendations, and a link to your own website. Did I mention it’s free? Find out all about it here.
2. Mobile devices – Smart phones are everywhere these days. Location-based technologies – like Foursquare – are popping up to take advantage. For businesses with brick and mortar locations, it’s a fun and interactive way to engage your customers and attract attention to your business. For everyone else, the popularity of smart phones means you need to think about how mobile-friendly your online presence is. Not everyone is looking at your blog, or your website, on the big screen.
3. LinkedIn – It’s a great way to establish your professional presence online. You can connect with other professionals, and maintain your connections even if you change jobs, careers, or locations. You can also get your connections to recommend you – real people, saying great things about you, publicly – as good as gold. LinkedIn is also a great place to establish your expertise in a given area – join groups, answer questions, lead discussions – show people you’re someone who knows what you’re talking about.
4. Facebook – Go where the people are. An estimated 200,000 people in the Victoria area use Facebook. The average Facebook user has 130 friends and spends about 55 minutes a day “Facebooking”. One person “liking” your Facebook page creates an opportunity for 130 other people to notice you (it’s like the shampoo commercial only way better). You can have a personal page and a business page – customize a landing page for your business and double the chances of someone “liking” your page.
5. Video – People are more likely to watch a video than they are to read a big block of text. Platforms like YouTube (owned by google = great for search potential) or Vimeo (free) are an excellent opportunity to show folks, firsthand, what you and your business are all about: product demonstrations, in-person (well, almost) introductions, or video testimonials of your customers saying great things about you (even better than gold). The possibilities are endless. Be creative. The video quality doesn’t have to be fantastic: it’s the content that counts.
Where Do You Go From Here?
We’ve only scanned the surface of the social media landscape. There’s lots to explore and lots to know. If you’re looking for a guide, contact Juhli – she delights in helping small business owners find their way to a dynamic online presence.
Or else, check out Terri Davies’ upcoming 4-part workshop series “Embracing Online Marketing“. Juhli can’t say enough about how great Terri’s workshops are: “she’s a fantastic educator with an infectious enthusiasm for all things social media”.
Good luck with your online adventures. Let me know how it goes.
Oh, and thanks to Matt Hamm for sharing his social media bandwagon illustration.