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According to Statista, this year over 180 million Americans will own a smartphone, and that number will grow by 10% to almost 200 million in 2016.
In a recent online poll we took of our audience, slightly more than half either had a mobile site or were acquiring one. Tough love alert: If your business isn’t ready for mobile primetime, it’s a dinosaur waiting to become extinct. Write this on a rock … Mobile computing wasn’t any part of your past, but it will dominate your future. Age of the Customer author and Small Business Advocate Jim Blasingame discusses the importance of introducing your customers to your business or company’s authentic side and offers three suggestions to help you convey your vision and values to your customers.
Strictly speaking, “social media” is the technology that makes online community building possible, not the community itself. In defining community, Webster uses words like association, fellowship, like-mindedness and shared interests. Merely having a website isn’t practicing community building any more than owning a piano makes you a musician.
There is one critically important thing for a founding company to understand about both of the online customer community types: the company cannot control community behavior. The goals of these two groups are very different: Individuals use social media primarily to connect and share. For professional services providers, like consultants, trainers, writers or any venture that sells information and ideas, social media is pretty intuitive, completely logical and often highly effective. Even so, social media, with all the attendant sites and applications, may be a craze, but it isn’t a fad.
If your social media ads haven’t been performing as well as anticipated, a new study published by CEB and Radius might have the answer. The study found that small business owners cite social media adoption as a high priority in 2015 — providing an essential channel to reach this business target. However, small businesses are still largely ignoring the content and ads that B2B marketers are posting on social media. 80% of marketers are posting the same helpful small business tips and tricks on social channels, but only 25% of small business owners are interested in reading this type of content.
To stand out to small business owners, marketers will have to move beyond standard listicle tips and general business best practices. Main street merchants may not want your tips and tricks articles, but they definitely want your deals. Learn more about how to reach small business owners on social media — download the full report. Facebook offers a great targeting tool, but if marketers aren’t targeting pre-defined prospects in segments with a high likelihood to perform, they’re not using Facebook to its highest potential. New access to data allows us to unearth historically elusive insights about the small business economy, and CEB’s 2014 Social Media Study implies that marketers remain out of touch with their small business prospects. Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. When using social media, like other forms of marketing, small businesses must allocate their scarce resources, namely budget and employees, to ensure they’re attracting a steady flow of new prospects, keeping existing customers satisfied, and driving profitable sales. Since small businesses have limited resources with which to test optimal marketing strategies, it’s useful to understand what’s currently working for others in terms of social media. Here are the major take-aways for small businesses from Ascend2’s research along with actionable social media tactics. Over half of small businesses rated social media “somewhat effective” to achieve their goals.
Actionable Small Business Social Media Tactic: Incorporate social media into your business mix to level the playing field with larger competitors. Actionable Small Business Social Media Tactic: Pull readers in by providing quality content that answers their questions. About a third of small businesses create video or audio content to expand their media offering. Actionable Small Business Social Media Tactic: Improve content effectiveness by formatting it for consumption since many readers decide whether to consume your content before they read the first word! Executing social media is difficult for small businesses because it involves specialized content creation resources, often not a small business competency.
About a third of small businesses think writing blog posts and articles is difficult. While useful for generating leads and sales, many people are nervous about showing their writing publically. Two out of five small businesses feel the budget and time needed for social media is an issue. Since these are scarce resources, small businesses, must be smart about using social media to yield measurable results. About 30% of small businesses lack of a social media strategy. This is understandable since many small businessmen assume they can build a social media strategy the same way they use these platforms personally.

One in five small businesses lacks the social media know-how to implement a strategy on their own. Since small businesses are focused on keeping their business going, they don’t have the time to keep up with the latest social media trends. Actionable Small Business Social Media Tactic: Create a social media strategy aligned with your business objectives. Based on Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley. The most important thing is control of your own company, you don’t need a middle man to take all the weight and profit.
Couldn't make it to Social Media Marketing World 2016?Get all the sessions with the SMMW16 Virtual Pass.
The Actionable Marketing Guide participates in the following affiliate marketing programs to bring you great products and services. After years of avoiding social media, small businesses are starting to embrace it – but are they really reaping the benefits? Once you have selected the social networks that best suit your company, you can then align your strategy to meet your desired goals. Assigning an intern to manage the social media channels a few hours per week is simply not enough anymore. If you don’t have enough time to regularly produce original quality content, share the good content that’s already out there or approach the experts to create content for you. Posting the same thing to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like is redundant and will cause you to lose followers.
People join social networks for different reasons and you best serve your online community when you know who they are and what they want to see. In real life, when you’re trying to make friends, talking about yourself won’t get you far. Make it easy for your community, customers, and industry leaders to share content on your social pages. Be an active listener to better understand what your community wants. When your URL is requested from a smartphone, the mobile site presents automatically with your regular website offerings netted out and with fewer graphics for the smaller screen – form follows function. Content is King — and we’re consumers of many different types of online content — but most content lacks the necessary engagement customers are craving. It allows for the creation of and service to online communities, where dialogue and interaction among community founders and members are possible. Communities founded and hosted by your company, oriented around relationships with customers and prospects. For example, real simple syndication (RSS), a blog, an email newsletter (ezine), a text blast and Twitter are channel tool examples, through which businesses and their communities exchange information. Businesses participate in social media communities to pursue a marketing strategy in these target-rich environments. But many classicMain Street small businesses, like a restaurant, dry cleaners, contractor, etc., often struggle to create an effective social media strategy.
This is where the danger lies because social media activity can become a thief that steals time from effective marketing practices.  Effective means those strategies that are known to result in sales. Continue to execute your traditional marketing strategy, while simultaneously getting involved in and learning about the 21st century social media universe. Small business owners who have been slow to join the social media train are finally jumping aboard. And B2B marketers have readily demonstrated their willingness to open their pocketbooks for social media advertising. On the tail end of an algorithm change that made it harder for marketers to achieve organic reach, Facebook announced a 61% surge in revenue.
Only a minority of small business owners even want this type of content on social media, so while it might be easy to produce, most small business owners aren’t interested in reading it. The majority of small business owners cited that if they could see any type of content from suppliers on social media, they’d want to see more deals. You could rely on organic social posts or paid ads solely to generate new leads, or you could nurture a targeted audience with content and ads you know will resonate– such as the deal offers small business owners covet. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way.
Ascend2 partnered with Research Underwriters to survey and interview 687 global business leaders, marketing executives and practitioners in February 2013. In part this is attributable to the ease of measuring customer interactions through likes and similar metrics. Focus each piece of content on a separate keyword phrase, write a killer headline to grab attention, and use eye-catching images.
Also expand your reach with social sharing icons and optimize each piece of content for search.

With limited resources, small businesses can develop blog content by answering customers’ questions.
Further, with limited resources, you must plan your activity to ensure it supports your marketing.
Get help creating a social media plan you can maintain time efficiently on your own with limited if any help. Then develop an editorial calendar plan of useful content to attract prospects while maximizing the utility of each piece of content marketing. I've just returned from San Diego where I presented a workshop session on Blogging at Social Media Marketing World 2016.
Your online community expects to receive responses to inquiries in a timely manner (typical accepted response time is within 24 hours).
There are too many companies out there bombarding their followers with the social media equivalent of spam. If they’re following you, they already think you’re great; you don’t need to constantly remind them. He lives in London, England and is particularly interested in the proliferation of social media around the world. Mobile sites cost less than mobile apps to create, update and maintain, and a mobile site icon looks just like a mobile app. An online community is established when customers subscribe to one or more of your channel offerings in order to receive your information. A founding company can only create the community and influence it by establishing community values, then serving it via the channels and information it offers, which are requested by members. And just like the evolution of websites, in time businesses will figure our how to use social media as an effective tool. Facebook recently added even more restrictions to News Feed content posted by brands, which forces brands to pay ever greater sums to reach their audience on the social network. CEB also reported that though owners seek discounts, they don’t just buy the cheapest option possible; rather, they prefer to buy the best they can afford.
This means that marketers aren’t using social media data about small business prospects to target advertisements on social channels. Imagine running a deal offer to an audience of prospects who had refused to buy your products because of price. Social media was more efficient at meeting small business’ objectives than those of their larger peers.
From a business perspective, social media engagement builds brands and supports sales by responding to customer service inquiries, building email lists for future marketing, extending content reach, providing reviews, and distributing time-sensitive information during emergencies.
The use of other media aids search results but associate text with these formats to ensure findability.
That said, small businesses like their larger peers face challenges in terms of having sufficient resources and associating measurable results with their investment.
If so, you should be brainstorming content, promotions, and posts that will attract your target customer. If you aren’t willing to invest the time and money it takes to respond to your online followers, then you probably shouldn’t be on social media. If you don’t have the answer and need some time to find it, let that person know that you have seen their question and you are working to get the answer for them. And the question is not whether this craze will last, but rather, what will it look like over time and why should a small business care?
But for the time being, some businesses have figured it out, while many are still uncertain about how to produce a social media return on investment. This finding suggests that small business owners are more likely to hunt for deals on products they already love than search for cheaper alternatives. It’s better to have a limited, strategic presence on social media than to be everywhere without purpose. Sendible’s social media dashboard with features like work flow approval and assigning tasks to team members should help you manage this effectively.
Make use of photos and other rich media content to tell a visual story using Facebook Timeline.
It’s okay to tell your online community about a new product or promotion, as long as that’s not all you’re doing.

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