21 Social Media & Content Marketing Tips Tailored For Small Businesses

7 Questions Every Small Business Must Ask To Succeed

Social media and content marketing are must haves for any business. This need is more important among small and mid-size businesses where additional marketing requires a trade-off for other scarce resources.

Most important among these is time, especially the owner’s or solopreneur’s time since there’s always something else that needs to get done that will yield an easily measureable return.

Due to this time crunch, small businesses tend to move from one business fire to the next without fully thinking through a longer-term marketing plan to support business growth. UMass Dartmouth’s research, 2012 Inc 500 Social Media Settles In, supports this point in terms of social media. [Note: 2014 Research by LinkedIn shows that 80% of SMBs use social media; these SMB tips still hold true.]

The research found that about three out five small and medium size businesses couldn’t track financial results for their social media efforts.

As a small or medium-sized businesses person you know that it can be difficult to find the time to brainstorm marketing initiatives – specifically social media, content and search marketing initiatives that you can track. (Here’s how to create a social media plan.)

Here are seven questions you can ask about your small business marketing efforts. By answering these questions, you can direct your time and resources to where they’ll yield the best results.

1. Can you extend your expertise to a broader audience?  Entice prospects and clients by offering them useful content at a general level. To be effective, this content needs to be more than a thinly veiled sales pitch. Rather you must think in terms of providing practical help that your audience can use or they’re liable to talk about how pushy you were.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Offer online videos or webinars to entice prospects to engage with you.
  2. Create ebooks that provide prospects with valuable information that builds your brand.
  3. Share this content on SlideShare to extend your audience.
  4. Use social sharing buttons. Encourage your visitors to share the information with their social circles.

2. Can you give prospects, customers and the public useful information related to your product? The goal is to provide helpful content that encourages buyers to use your product. This works well for food products, crafts, clothing and DIY.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Develop recipes, how-tos and patterns to enable prospects to use your offering effectively. Make sure that you link to your product page where appropriate. Also, increase usage with enticing images of the finished product.
  2. Style products such as clothes and household items to show prospects how they should look. Understand that customers spend time browsing on their tablets looking for product ideas.

3. Can you be a show off (in a good way)? While this might go against the manners your mother taught you, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Demonstrate to your target audience the type of results that they’ll get. Just saying, “Trust me” won’t cut it.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Take before and after photos to reduce the risk for potential customers.  This is particularly useful when prospects perceive that the risks are high such as haircuts and weddings.
  2. Use audio and/or text to let the world know about your business. If your business talks one-to-one, it may be worth doing a podcast to give your product and related social media content a personal voice.
  3. Get patrons’ permission or offer a free bonus to incent them to participate. Make sure that you have the right to use their images.

4. Can you give prospects and customers a reason to get together IRL (in real life)? In today’s virtually connected world, give your target audience a reason to congregate in person. Think beyond making a big sale by having other lower priced offerings to drive additional or supplemental revenues. Think in terms of when your customers are available rather than when you’re at work. Examples include wine tastings for local wine shops and cooking classes for food specialty shops and/or restaurants. Leverage the power of these gatherings to create content. Think beyond the single event.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Organize your community. One way to engage your audience is through the use of the social media platform, Meetup.com. It helps you manage meetings and share related content.
  2. Create event related content. Think images, videos and customer input that can be shared across social media platforms.
  3. Use a Twitter hashtag to extend your reach. Make sure that you test the hashtag to ensure that no one else is using it for another purpose.
  4. Leverage existing niche communities where your prospects and customers naturally congregate. Set up a group in this niche’s social media site. For example, yarn shops participate and socialize on Ravelry, a knitting community.

5. Can you share fun or related information? Think bite size content chunks. Use information that’s ancillary to your business. For example, a massage therapist can create a Twitter stream, podcast or blog for meditations to put people in a more serene state of mind.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Give prospects a laugh. Don’t underestimate the power of funny content. This doesn’t mean a home video by your Uncle Bernie. Both Blendtec’s Will It Blend and Orabrush have created power house brands with this tactic.
  2. Use trivia to get prospects engaged. Everyone loves testing their knowledge. What fun questions can you create around your business?

6. Can you tap into people’s passions and/or hobbies? This doesn’t refer to love and dating but rather it aims to undercover your target audience’s special interests and preferences (as well as those of the people who influence them) that guide their product tradeoffs. This information is powerful since it helps you to position and price your product appropriately. For example, will your target market splurge on their hobby regularly or save for their dream vacation?

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Offer content related to the information your audience shares related to their hobbies and special interests. This is easy. Give your audience the type of information for which they’re already looking.
  2. Engage with them on the social media platforms where they already are. Think  Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+.
  3. Get them to take and share photographs and/or videos. Use those social media platforms .
  4. Write great text such as blogs or Tumblr. Understand that long form content still works.

7. Can you participate on the dominant blogs covering your business’s area of expertise? Leverage other people’s audiences to enlarge yours. This works for businesses that don’t directly compete with your company. The goal of this activity is to build your reputation in your niche.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Contribute meaty comments on the top blogs. Add to and extend the conversation on social media.
  2.  Write strong guest blog posts to share your knowledge and broaden your audience. This means creating amazing content for other people.

 

To ensure that your small business is successful, understand what motivates your key prospects and offer them related information across a variety of platforms. Where possible, consider how you’ll reuse the information over time before you create it.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


BTW–If you’re a small or medium sized business, you may want to consider attending Social Media Marketing World to get a large dose of social media advice from the experts on April 7, 8 & 9th, 2013 in San Diego. It gives you an opportunity to learn first hand what’s happening in the field and to get your questions answered.

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/6157408056/

 

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  • http://twitter.com/legendt Daniel Tay

    Superb article – very detailed, and easily actionable. Thanks for this :)

  • http://www.seobooklab.com/ Ram Babu SEO

    Excellent guide with actionable tips.

  • Doreen Dickens

    I agree with Babu SEO that these tips are not only simple but very practical. Thanks for taking your time to post.

  • Ann Daniel

    good
    afternoon,

    i’d like to thank you and post online marketing tips for your small project
    :

    build a good image and name for you product to you customer, in order to
    keep a good feed back to your customers.

    you can use social networking websites to promote directly to customers
    with less money and more effect.

    keep your page updated by new and fresh content, beside being interested to
    your customers. this will raise your page rank.

    stay connected with your customers through social network inorder to
    interact with them and get their feedback about your product.

    http://www.smarttouch.me/en

  • http://entreb.com/ Entreb

    Hi Heidi! These are great tips and they are practical actionable tips that we can do right away to grow our small business using social media.