Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’
Social media is embedded into our society. Business owners are figuring out how to incorporate social media into their company strategy.
Control of your brand is slipping away as social network followers are determining if your company is worthy of their attention! Decisions must be made in real-time, not put on the agenda for the next board meeting.
Most of my clients, readers and followers own small businesses or are part of a small team in a larger environment. Wearing all the hats we wear can not only be difficult, at some point it begins to damage our core business or responsibility. We simply can’t do everything we need to do as effectively as we want to!
Even in a company of 1, we need to periodically step back and put on the CEO hat. The company strategy must be clearly defined, goals and objectives formulated, tactical action plans put into place and, finally, measurements or key performance indicators (kpi) created to determine if those goals have been achieved.
With our defined strategy in mind, let’s explore facets of a good social media resource. If you are that resource, this will help define your strengths and weaknesses. If you have a small team and are considering ‘growing’ one of them into this position, it will help you decide if that is a good solution. Perhaps the answer is in bringing in a social media mentor to guide this existing resource. Or perhaps you are ready to take on a part-time or full-time social media resource. No matter what stage you’re at, it will benefit you to build a social media job description based on your organization’s objectives.
An important point about social media. It’s got to be personal, real and fluid. If you bring in a consultant or mentor, they need to really invest in knowing your company just as your internal social media resource would be vested.
Too often, and especially in very small companies, owners try to utilize resources they already have, try to make a newly identified requirement fit within an employee’s capabilities. First, create the job without a person in mind. Separate yourself from your personnel, be objective. Then compare that job description to the resources you have available. If you then bend to make the job fit, you can clearly define to the employee what your expectations are, and help them get the training they need. Defined goals, and identified paths to achieve those goals, provide productive employee reviews.
There is a sense of urgency about participating in social media and an enthusiastic marketing person might grab onto what seems hot and exciting at the moment and end up spending too much time going down paths that are not bringing you a return on your investment. You must provide a clear path for your social media resource, even if that person is you.
Here are 10 qualifications for a Social Media Resource. These have been compiled from current job descriptions for Social Media Coordinator, Social Media Managers and Community Managers. In this list, ‘social media’ also embraces your company blog and enewsletter requirements.
Your ideal social media resource should:
1. Have relevant experience interfacing with and utilizing social media tools sets such as Facebook, Linked-In, YouTube, Twitter, Blogging, mobile applications and widgets.
2. Stay up-to-date on new media tools, best practices and how other organizations and companies are using these communication tools. Consume, curate, and share relevant, interesting industry information and content with internal and external communities.
3. Develop social media campaigns to achieve company objectives.
4. Define and develop an editorial calendar that identifies what types of posts/enewsletters are required.
5. Locate potential 3rd party content consistent with company mission and programs which the company’s target audience would find useful. Add these to the editorial calendar.
6. Write copy and manage content for social media programs, company blog and promotions. Identify other internal writers and manage that content.
7. Manage and execute the day-to-day social media process.
8. Using current monitoring tools, capture, analyze and understand customer initiated conversations.
9. Identify and monitor relevant and influential blogs/social media platforms; and when appropriate, respond appropriately on behalf of the company, maintaining consistency of answers and minimizing legal and brand image risk.
10. Establish social measurement KPIs. Monitor metrics to determine effectiveness of social media, website and marketing efforts, making necessary modifications to increase effectiveness. Prepare appropriate reports to highlight results. Recommend next steps.
These 10 qualifications should be basic to any company job description for a social media resource and will help you define your social media resource position. Larger companies will separate and broaden to create Social Media Coordinator and Social Media Manager positions.
What do you think of this list and where do you stand in your quest to get your company established in the world of social media?
Michelle Fontaine, your FBSmarty
One question I hear often, “How much time do I need to spend on Social Media?” As businesses gain more experience with social media, that answer is becoming more defined.
Social Media Examiner released a major study of over 2500 businesses from many different industries. The 2011 Social Media Marketing Report indicates “The majority of marketers (58%) are using social media for 6 hours or more each week, and more than a third (34%) invest 11 or more hours weekly.”
If you feel you might be lagging behind when it comes to social media, you aren’t. But it’s time to get going. According to this study, “In 2010, only 31% of marketers were using social media for 1 or more years. Now that number has grown to 50%.”
The more experience companies have with social media, the more time they are spending on it. One could assume by those numbers they are seeing the value in the time expended, perhaps with significant reductions or eliminations of other kinds of marketing.
Indeed, “72% of marketers who have been using social media for more than 3 years report it helped them close business. More than half who spend 1 or more hours per week find the same result.” When something works and you know it, you’ll continue to do it right?
“For people just beginning with social media 59% spend 1 to 5 hours per week. However, for folks who have been doing this for a few months or longer, most spend 6 hours or more per week on social media activities. A significant 47% of marketers who have more than 3 years experience spend at least 16 hours per week focused on social media activities.”
Facebook, more than other social media networks, is about growing relationships. Over time, it is expected that you would be nurturing more relationships which would take more time.
Self-employed and small business owners with 2 or more employees achieve the most benefit from social media. This segment has the most flexibility, ability to make quick decisions and reply to questions and comments ‘on-the-fly’. They don’t need to get an answer or direction from upper managment. This small business benefit coincides with our personal experience as well as our clients’. Here are a few examples:
1. Paul S. Robinson Photography has booked several weddings and has acquired students for their photography class directly from the activity of their Facebook page which has been up and running since January 2011. Owners Lyn and Paul spend at least 2 hours a day on social media activities which include blogging, updating their Facebook Page and engaging with their fans. They were recently interviewed by Worcester Business Journal about their success in social media.
2. Students – Michael Metcalf owns GED Preparation Services. He promotes entirely through his Facebook Page. Rather than having a traditional website, he’s invested in one of our Facebook mini-websites so all his information is right where his customers are, on Facebook! Michael tells us, “In the short time that I’ve had a Facebook business presence, I’ve acquired several GED students who actually take the course in a secret Facebook Group. It’s really helped move my business forward.”
3. Cabin Rentals – According to Laurie Church, “Our Facebook Page has enabled people who have rented cabins to communicate to their friends and family through Facebook, writing of their enjoyment while staying at the cabins and sharing tagged photos. This has spurred interest from new prospective renters. Inquires have more than doubled in the last year. Although we have a rich traditional website, the inclusion of a new Facebook mini website puts wonderful imagery and video right in front of our Facebook fans. Rental of Wallis Cove Cabins are at an all-time high and that includes off-season interest. I attribute most of this directly to my social media activity. I spend an average of 1/2 hour a day on the Wallis Cove Facebook Page .
4. Students and Clients – We started our FBSmarty Facebook Page in November 2010. People engaging with the page have increased organically about 9% per month. Many students sign up based on our social media activities and we are able to help promote our clients through it as well. We find it a wonderful way to foster relationships.
We would love to hear your experiences with social media. How much time to you spend on social media per week? Tell us about your success story so we can help you promote it. Post your Facebook links.
The number 1 ingredient to promote your expertise in social networks, enewsletters and blogs is content! It’s also one of the biggest challenges people have. What do you write about? How do you find the time to write? How do you know it will be worth it?
Here is the process I’ve developed for FB Smarty to write once and use it multiple times. Perhaps it’s one you can adopt or use as your own starting point.
Step 1 – Start with a blog
What is your business focus?
The success of your business depends on you knowing your customer and target audience. Write about what you believe they will find interesting and important. I understand the challenges of small business, I struggle with them myself.
Content is key but consistency is right up there too!
Many professional bloggers recommend writing 2-3 times a week. For me, it’s one main blog a week which publishes on Monday. That content is then reused, or ‘repurposed’, for an enewsletter and Facebook postings. I also post other types of things on Facebook every day. My Facebook Page is also synchronized to my Twitter account.
Start once a week and, over time, you’ll have archives and people expecting to see your content at a certain time during the week!
Credible, quality content is important. Use spell-check, check your links, reference people and articles correctly. I work on a draft and then refine it, adding the references and links last. I might have a point to make and then find a reference to refer that point to. It’s excellent to be able to link back to previous blogs you’ve written.
One other trick that works for me is I print out the final piece and go over it as a hard copy before publishing. It’s amazing how many times things are caught in this last step. I’m not perfect and grammar errors and typos still get through at times. I don’t beat myself up for it but try harder next time. One good thing about our web areas is the ability to go back and make corrections and updates. Content lives a very long time on the web!
The magic question often asked is how long should blogs be?
The general consensus from blog pros I’ve read about is ‘it depends’ on what you are writing and how much you have to say about it, but I keep hearing that 350 words is fine and 1500 words is fine as long as it’s quality content. Also, if you do write a long blog, consider breaking it into 2 or 3 segments. People have short attentions spans, as we know.
Another point often made by pro bloggers is ‘mix it up’, add photos, videos, mp3 audio.
Ways to publish to your Facebook Business Page
Set your blog up to auto-publish to a custom Page on your Facebook Page. Many authorities, including Mari Smith, recommends and uses networkedblogs.com. However, don’t have it publish to your Facebook wall, just to the Blog link on your Page. The reason for that will be explained in a bit.
You can also import a blog into the Facebook Notes.
According to Facebook Help,
1. Access your Page manager here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/manage/
2. Go to your Page and click “Edit Page” beneath the Page profile picture.
3. Select “Applications” and next to “Notes” please click “Go to Application.”
4. On the bottom left hand side of the page select “Edit Import Settings”
Your blog should also include a clear company name, your tag line, your signature links and ways for your readers to share the content. That’s a big subject to cover but wanted to bring it forward here.
Here’s a tip. Look at your blog from a brand new reader’s view. In 2 seconds can this new reader tell… Who (who are you?), What (What’s in it for me?), and Why (Why should I read this?) .
Step 2 – From that blog, create your enewsletter
Not everyone is on Facebook (I know, hard to believe!), but every business uses email and expect their email inbox to bring them what they need to know to keep up. Enewsletters serve a great purpose when the right match is made. The goal is to slowly draw the reader into your blog and then have them respond to your call to action.
Defining Call to Actions
Take all the italicized text in the next paragraph and put your own in!
My call to action is to acquire students for my Facebook for Business courses and other workshops, seminars put on by FB Smarty and also to acquire web design clients. Positioning myself as an authority, and convincing them, is the key. I know my target audience has the need so my reason for writing is to get them to come to me for guidance and internet needs..
Enewsletters should be short and concise. Entice your subscribers to click-through to your blog to learn more on the subject of the enewsletter. Put a Call to Action somewhere in the enewsletter, perhaps the bottom or right narrow column. Keep the content the main focus and the CTA as a sub-focus.
Building your Enews subscriber opt-in list should be one of your main CTAs no matter what marketing you’re doing. I collect emails through an opt-in form on our website and on our custom Facebook page. I also ask for them at trade shows and networking groups.
Utilize the reporting and statistics options of your enews carrier
We highly suggest you use a service and not try to do it yourself. MailChimp and Constant Contact are two good options. We use Mail Chimp. Here are some of the things we learn from our enews stats.
Analyze the Time of Day and Day you Send vs. the Open Rate
Because FB Smarty’s Facebook for Business tips are geared to business owners, my instinct tells me Monday is a good day to send these out. Not over the weekend and not towards the end of the week, but at the beginning when people are more business focused and, at a time of day when they might be getting that second cup of coffee and taking a short break.
Personally, I try to never book appointments on Monday or leave the office. It’s my get-ahead day, my plow into the week day. I spend time catching up on new tools, read my research mentor’s blogs and postings, etc. So, when I decided to use Mondays am the day I publish, and also 10:00a.m., it was based on my own personal experience, but I’m not foolish enough to rely only on that. So, starting from that day and time, I test my theory.
Mail Chimp, our current mail service, allows easy testing of enewsletters through their A/B process. They send out your letter at two different times to segments of your list and compare them. For this chart, I had a Friday and a Sunday included but they did so poorly, I decided simply to compare times on Mondays vs. Open Rates.
According to this chart, you can see that 10:00 a.m. on Mondays gives us the best Open Rate, while earlier and later in the day the rate drops off significantly. If your subject is not business oriented, this might not apply.
Embed your Enews Archives
Follow your enews vendor’s instructions and get the embed code for your enews archives. These are widgets you can embed in your website and in your custom Facebook Pages. Widgets are great because they are basically set up and forget!
Step 3 – Post to Facebook
Time to Share on Facebook and other social networks
Post to your Facebook Business wall. It does not have to be posted on Monday, later in the week is fine but try to be consistent with that as well. Write a post using 400 or fewer characters and link your blog link. The link can be shortened through a blog shortener like bit.ly.
Did you know that the only way a post has the ‘share’ button under it is if it is linked to something? Once you publish it on your wall, it goes out to your fan’s newsfeeds based on Facebook’s engagement algorithm. Your fans will have the option to ‘share’ it with their friends.
Automated postings are convenient but be aware
The reason we recommend that you have networkedblog.com post only to your blog link and not the wall is that Facebook gives more weight, through its EdgeRank algorithms, to manually typed posts rather than automated posts. More weight means more likely your fans will see your postings.
If you have a Twitter account set up, you can also have Facebook post to Twitter for you. That means the first 140 characters of your Facebook Post will post to Twitter.
Next Steps – Define your Own Process and Start!!
Get that white board out. Draw up a calendar. Write down ideas for blogs. Go to WordPress.com and set up a free account. Now, start! Don’t worry about being perfect, you’ll get better…. just do it!
Our process revolves around the weekly blog and how to ‘re’purpose that content! Do you have a process for creating content? Ideas you’d like to share?