Ross Kimbarovsky is the co-founder of crowdSPRING, a community of 43,000+ graphic designers that helps small businesses from around the world with graphic design needs. Capacity - especially to plan and execute effective marketing strategies - is a big challenge for every small business. I suggest you begin by outlining clear goals for your social media marketing efforts and figuring out how you'll measure success. Basic Strategy: If you haven't signed up for Facebook yet, you absolutely should as soon as possible.
You should do one other thing: search for your competitors and evaluate their Facebook presence. Advanced Strategy: You may already have a personal Facebook account, but how do you extend that presence for your business? Basic Strategy: If you haven't signed up on Twitter yet, you should sign up today and reserve an account in the name of your business. Next, you should spend 15-30 minutes on Twitter's homepage, doing basic searches to become familiar with the type of content available on the service. Advanced Strategy: To truly leverage Twitter, you'll want to learn and use a few more advanced tools. Although there's more attention focused today on social networks than on company blogs, blogs continue to offer great value for small businesses. Basic Strategy: At a minimum, you should consider reserving a domain name for your blog - if you don't already have a custom domain for your business. One easy alternative is to set up a simple blog at Posterous - a place to post stories, photos, videos, MP3s, and files. Advanced Strategy: Now that you've decided to start or improve your small business blog, how do you build an audience for it?
You'll also want to consider how you can make it easier for your readers to help promote your content. LinkedIn is a business oriented social network for professionals, and it's huge, with nearly 50 million users from over 200 countries. Basic Strategy: Once again, you'll want to at least reserve your business name (or your personal name) so that others can't use it. It might seem counter-intuitive for you to spend your valuable time by participating in discussions on other people's blogs, but the payoff can be very valuable. Basic Strategy: Identify 2-3 blogs in your industry, or those that focus on small business, and get into the habit of regularly reading the content and participating in the discussions. Advanced Strategy: Once you've spent some time on other blogs and have participated in discussions, you'll find that you've built a level of credibility and trust, based on your participation. Basic Strategy: Yelp, Foursquare, and other mobile social networks can be powerful marketing channels for small businesses.
Advanced Strategy: If you believe that your business can truly benefit from a presence on Yelp, Foursquare, or similar networks, you'll want to do more than just register accounts with those services. Similarly, you can find ways to promote your business using Foursquare and similar networks.
Don't forget to also consider how you can improve your use of other basic local strategies. Basic Strategy: There are five simple steps you can take today to begin paying attention to conversations about your business. Advanced Strategy: If you're having trouble keeping track of your various search strategies, you should consolidate your efforts and leverage one of the many applications that will help you monitor the social web.
In addition to monitoring, you'll need to decide how, when, and where you'll engage in conversations.
Multimedia (video, photos, audio) is a bit more complicated for many small businesses to execute, but can provide excellent social media marketing opportunities. Basic Strategy: YouTube has been constantly evolving and adding features that make it an attractive social site for small businesses.
Similarly, you could start a Flickr account for your business and post photos of your customers or your products (or both). Advanced Strategy: Advanced strategies using multimedia are complicated and typically benefit from using experienced consultants. When you consider how you can leverage social networks, think about whether each network provides an audience or a technology solution (or both). Advanced Strategy: Things get a bit more complicated when you consider that there are many different social networks, and it's tough to predict which of them will become popular and which will fail. Speaking with a common "voice" doesn't mean that only one person should execute your company's social media marketing strategy, but it does mean that everyone who speaks on behalf of your company in social media reflects your brand in a consistent way. One of the best ways for small businesses to leverage social media marketing is to use various social networks in combination with each other. Basic Strategy: At a minimum, you should do several things today to cross-market across the various social networks you're most likely already using.
First, connect your Twitter account to Facebook so that your tweets will appear in your public updates on Facebook. You'll also want to consider ways that you can optimize the distribution to multiple social networks at the same time. And if you have additional resources to share or other helpful advice that's worked for your small business (or thoughts about things to avoid), please take a minute and leave a comment. A friendly place to share small business ideas and knowledge, ask questions, find help and encourage others that are involved in the small business industry.
Many posts I read about social media marketing explain the importance of social media marketing, talk about celebrities that use social media marketing, and give examples of popular people & websites that use social media marketing effectively.
Remember, you want to influence the influencers, not they try to become the influencer overnight. There is nothing wrong with becoming a popular social media users (like I am sure small business brief is) but trying to become that overnight does not work for most internet business owners. I mean, I was reading and reading to see what to comment about and I could not find anything because the explanation, along with picture, is self explanatory. Finally, I found something to talk about: I thought I knew everything about social media marketing but this concept goes farther than my knowledge. I am the one who has a large network in LinkedIn and Facebook, and use several techniques to promote my businesses, but I never thought about focusing on influencing other people like me (who has large networks). Instead of creating our own Twitter account and trying to create a bunch of fake followers, we just simply created a reason why influential Twitter Account owners would promote the site for us. There is no other low-cost promotional method out there that will easily give you large numbers of visitors, some of whom may come back to your website again and again. Social Marketing can be a 2 way road, it can be good or get very nasty when people start to flame a person, it can make you or break you. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. If you have any ideas you'd like to share on social media marketing for small business, please leave a comment, thanks! How should your company participate in the ever growing number of social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc? Social Media Marketing is an amazing way to leverage your content creation efforts and distribute this material to prospective customers, existing clients and your employees. Maziermedia will develop a customized social media plan to provide your business maximum visibility to your target customers, while helping with best practices on building an engaged following for your small business. In this post, I'll offer 10 suggestions for how small businesses can supercharge their marketing efforts by leveraging social media. Once you've outlined your goals, let's look at 10 great ways you can begin to leverage social media for your marketing efforts. Facebook now has over 300 million users, and while that seems like an outrageous number for small businesses to be targeting, Facebook offers a very powerful platform on which to build a presence. While you might ultimately tweet in your own name, you'll want to have the option to tweet from a business account.

For example, if you are operating a small gift basket business, do some searches for various terms and phrases such as “gift basket,” “gifts,” “gift basket business,” etc. If you're comfortable enough to set up your own blog, that's generally the best way to proceed - although this requires a bit more technical knowledge (many hosting providers offer a 1 step easy setup for blogs that will automatically install WordPress for you). There are pluses and minuses to all of these options - you should take some time to compare them and do what makes sense for your business. For example, install helpful plug-ins, such as a TweetMeme button, which makes it easy for people to retweet your posts on Twitter. Similar to the way you might start exploring Facebook and Twitter, you should look around on LinkedIn to see how your competitors are using the service. For example, you can encourage your customers, clients or vendors to give you a “recommendation” on your profile. Find some groups that have a connection to your small business and become involved in the conversations. Remember that it takes time to build a reputation and establish your credibility, and you can't always expect everyone to come to you. You should consider reaching out to the blog owners and asking whether they'd allow you to guest post an article on their blog (kind of like this post).
Since you're looking to attract more readers (and more potential customers), either option works well for that purpose. You should at the very least register accounts on the popular services and get to know them.
For example, you can add your business to Google Maps, or update your listing to include additional details. If you have a TV display in your store connected to a computer, you can display the people who are checking in. For example, many small business websites are optimized for specific keywords or subject areas, but are rarely optimized for local searches.
Google Alerts are free email updates from Google search results about any topic you're interested in tracking. In August, Facebook rolled out a real-time search engine (the search box is on the top right of any Facebook page). You currently can search Twitter for real-time results (if you're not logged in, just go to Twitter's homepage). I use and like BackType, which is a real-time search engine that indexes online conversations in thousands of blogs and social networks. I have not personally used these services, but they appear to be held in high esteem by knowledgeable people who have. It'll be very difficult for you to engage in conversations everywhere, so you should spend some time learning the various networks and deciding where you should focus your efforts. Although you don't have to produce videos to participate on YouTube, you should consider whether simple videos can help your marketing efforts. Flickr offers a place where people can share photos with others, but also has discussion groups, many focused on local markets, that offer additional opportunities for you to market your business. One effective way to leverage video, for example, is to create content that has the potential to become viral. For example, YouTube provides both a huge audience and a solution for uploading video files.
Do a search for your company's name on Google right now — if you also have a Twitter account with the same name, odds are pretty good that the Twitter account will appear very high in the search results. For example, are you using a Gmail email address when you can very easily be using a custom email address with your company name as your domain? Use a service such as namechk or KnowEm to see whether your username is available on dozens of popular social networks and if it's not, to see which username could be registered across all social networks. You'll also want to make sure that your brand speaks with a common "voice" across the social networks. I recommend you read Shel Israel's recently published book "Twitterville," for excellent tips and stories focusing on how large and small businesses can develop a consistent voice in social media. LinkedIn allows you to publish, in your profile, synopses of the most recent blog posts on your blog. I like and use the TweetMeme retweet button on my blogs to make it easier for users to tweet about the blog posts. I hope that the strategies I've outlined above provide a starting point for you to explore how you can leverage social media marketing for your small business. Powered by its own proprietary technology, Mashable is the go-to source for tech, digital culture and entertainment content for its dedicated and influential audience around the globe.
We are a community of over 70,000 small business folks with over 120,000 posts for you to browse.
For each suggestion, I will discuss a basic strategy - for those who simply want to get their toes wet, as well as an advanced strategy - for those who want to spend a bit more time and go a bit deeper in their social media marketing efforts. Be aware, however, that if you reserve your company name for your personal account, you won't be able to use it for your Business Fan Page (more on those in the Advanced Strategy), so you may want to create a Page before registering your company's name.
You can register a Business Account - which is designed for a very simple presence on Facebook. BusinessWeek's recent profile of 20 ways businesses use Twitter might give you some ideas about how you can leverage Twitter for your business. You should also search for the names of your competitors to see whether they're on Twitter and if they are, how they're using it.
Desktop clients give you more flexibility and more control over your Twitter strategy than you'll have on the Twitter website. Don't be afraid to experiment with plugins to add to the functionality of your blog, but keep it simple. Recommendations are useful because they'll make you and your business more credible with new customers.
Answer questions when you can, and help to establish yourself as knowledgeable about specific topics related to your business. This is a nice way for you to get in front of a bigger audience, and many blog owners will invite guests to post from time to time. It allows users to "check in" by cell phone at a local venue and announce this via other social networks such as Twitter.
If you have a restaurant or a retail store, for example, you'll want to get to know Yelp pretty well. You can encourage reviews by running promotions or discounts - offering free appetizers, for example, to a customer who will write a review about their meal at your restaurant (or to one who already wrote a review), or a small discount to a customer who hires you for carpentry work and mentions that they found you through Yelp. You can offer specials or discounts to the person who visits your location the most (this is similar to frequent buyer cards that many businesses have used for years). If you have a gift basket business, you'll want to be sure that users searching for gift baskets in your geographic area will find you. For example, I track, among other alerts, the names of our competitors, the name of our company, and certain other terms I believe are important to my business. Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that provides detailed and very useful information about your website traffic and the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
One effective way to take advantage of Facebook search is to search for your company's name to see who is talking about your company and what they're saying.
For example, truVOICE provides keyword monitoring of the social web with an emphasis on blogs and forums, while Radian6 pulls in a lot of information from the social web, analyzes it, and provides consumer sentiment ratings for your brand. Looking at your website analytics data — if you own an online business — will help a great deal because it'll help you to better understand where your traffic is coming from. For example, if you're already posting videos to your blog, you can upload them to YouTube to reach a broader audience, and embed the video content in your blog posts. You can also consider setting up your own Internet radio talk show using BlogTalkRadio, which is another way to use multimedia to speak directly to your customers. While I don't believe you can set out to make a viral video (an incredible amount of luck is typically involved), there are a number of things you can typically do to build awareness about your small business using viral video (these strategies are beyond the scope of this post).

Flickr can also provide both an audience and a technology solution, but not for every business. This means that having a consistent username across the various social networks is very important. This application will automatically update your LinkedIn profile with your most recent blog posts. I also use the ShareThis tool to enable readers to quickly share content on multiple social networks. For example, if you're posting videos on YouTube or Vimeo, you can blog about those videos on your company's blog.
Engaging with your customers is a great way for your customers to continue to learn about other services you provide, as well and build trust in your brand.
These tips are based on my experience leveraging social media marketing for my company, crowdSPRING. There are many limitations on such accounts (read the FAQ here), however, so you'll most likely prefer to have a Business Fan Page. Twitter has put together a simple guide to help you understand what Twitter can do for business. And don't forget to search for your small business name - your customers may already be talking about you! Among other things, you'll be able to pre-define searches (so that you can monitor certain keywords, including your business name) and group people you follow so that you can minimize the noise and focus on the real content.
For example, some months ago at my company, we decided that we wanted to write more about small business issues, so we've been writing original posts focusing on issues affecting small businesses. If you're a roofer, for example, ask your customers to recommend you after a successful job. There are many small business and general marketing groups that will be very useful resources for you, and if there isn't a group that interests you, consider starting one.
One strategy for identifying good blogs is to use Guy Kawasaki's Alltop, which is a directory of popular blogs across many different subject areas. Agree on a topic in advance and provide a draft of your post sufficiently in advance of the publication date to give them an opportunity to review. There are many excellent blogs and it might take a bit of time to build your reputation to such a level that you'll have opportunities to post in the top blogs.
You can set up a business account on Yelp (no cost), which will let you answer questions about your business, track how many Yelp users view your business page, add information about your business, and announce special promotions. Anytime Google adds something to its index that mentions my company or the other terms I'm tracking, I receive an immediate email notification with a link to that item.
When we run social media campaigns, we'll often attach tracking tags to those campaigns so that we can properly monitor them in Google Analytics. In several months, you'll be able to search Facebook updates directly from Bing, which will be integrating Facebook public updates into Bing's search results. Every day, I receive emails from BackType with links to comments that include the keywords I'm monitoring. A good resource to learn about paid social media monitoring tools is Mashable's post Top 10 Reputation Tracking Tools Worth Paying For. If much of your traffic originates from Twitter and Facebook, for example, you'll want to spend more time on those services. YouTube has also been adding more comprehensive activity updates for its users and has made pretty powerful analytics tools available so that you can evaluate the effectiveness of your video content. Once you've created good content, you'll want to distribute it using as many social networks as you can. While your customers might not be on Flickr, you can still use Flickr as a place to store and tag your photos, and then distribute those photos to other social networks where you prefer to invest more time and effort.
But they won't find you if your brand is scattered across social networks using different usernames and profiles. At a minimum, if you haven't registered your company name on the major networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), you should do that today. Social networks differ in significant ways from one another and present unique challenges for interacting with customers and potential customers on those networks.
Then, you can tweet about the blog posts on Twitter (which I assume is integrated with your Facebook account).
You can read their headline findings below, with the full infographic above (click the image).45 percent of the SMEs surveys said social didn’t take a lot of time to use—up 45 percent since the spring.
A Business Fan Page lets you create a page where customers or fans of your business can register as a “fan” — expanding the presence of your business (because your updates will also flow to their pages).
Once you become comfortable with the content that's already available and how your competitors are using Twitter, you can begin thinking about a strategy for how you'll leverage Twitter for your business. You might also consider using a web tool like Twitterfall, which will allow you to define (and color-code) various custom searches that you can review from time to time, and also to follow trending topics. Think about your expertise and more importantly, think about the things that you're interested in writing about. You'll find such recommendations useful - particularly since your LinkedIn profile will come up high in search engine results. That doesn't mean you should wait, though - make opportunities for yourself and offer to guest write whenever you can find a new audience. Similarly, you'll want to sign up with Foursquare to take advantage of local advertising opportunities. This is important because without such data it will be nearly impossible for you to evaluate the success of your social media marketing efforts. Without these alerts, I would be unable to monitor so many blogs, and my ability to respond to posts about my company would be very limited. Let's review some strategies for making sure that your brand is consistent across social networks. For many small businesses, their user accounts on social networks will be the highest ranked pages in search results. This way, you've taken one piece of content and found a way to leverage it across multiple social networks. Learn which networks are best for your business and find ways to leverage combinations of those networks to make your marketing more effective.
For example, I use Twitterfall to identify helpful graphic design and industrial design resources to share with the crowdSPRING community. A blog requires a long term investment of time (and resources), and you don't want to be stuck writing about things that bore you. I recommend that you read Chris Brogan's post from last year discussing the elements of a good LinkedIn recommendation. If you want to participate in blogs focusing on small business issues, you might start at Technorati's list of the Top 100 Small Business blogs. I recommend you read How To Guest Post To Promote Your Blog from blogging expert Darren Rowse.
Using Foursquare, you'll be able to push promotions to potential customers who're in the vicinity of your business. But analytics are important for another reason: they'll tell you which sites are sending traffic to your site. The survey found that roughly 60 percent of small businesses respond to all comments on social media platforms, whether those posts are positive or negative.In case you missed them, I also posted some other interesting social media statistics a few weeks back. Luke Brynley-JonesLuke is the Founder & CEO of Our Social Times, one of the UK’s best known social media agencies, whose clients include The Telegraph Media Group, Orange Business Services, Blue Square and BAT.
Having worked with global brands, celebrities, start-ups and SMEs, Luke writes about how social media is changing the world of business.

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