In Social Media – Size Really Does Not Matter

With the plethora of social media platforms available, small businesses can acquire loyal customers, gain valuable insight and boost business by getting involved. Small companies with smaller budgets can still benefit by freely tapping into the world of social media.

SES NY Day Two session,  “Small Voices, Big Impact: Social Media for the Little Guy”, consisted of presentations from Jennifer Evans Laycock, Director of Social Media,  SiteLogic and Tim Kendall, Director of Monetization for Facebook with a Q&A in between.

Additional members of the panel included: Amber Naslund, Director of Community, Radian and Christina Kerley, Marketing Specialist, ckEpiphany.  How do you do it?  What should you do?  These and other answers to the question about whether or not size really does matter.

Jennifer Evans Laycock started the session by rewording Social media  to Social Media Conversations.  Social media is about conversations and is a great way to get your business involved  and connect  with your customers.

New social media venues pop up left and right.  Many leave the stratosphere in about a week even though many of these clones think they are always the next big thing.  Don’t chase every new tool.  Instead, look at the platforms that already have a solid setting.   They bring with them, a bigger audience that is focus on established areas.

Given the recession, social media is a great place to get involved.  Since consumers have less money, more people are going on-line to before making buying decisions.  Smart businesses are going out to find out what consumers are talking about.

There are several established communities to choose from:
Flickr: Images as communication medium is powerful way to go.  They catch peoples’  eyes and  pulls at their heartstrings.  One way to use it is to use it to host images.  The real power is that people can get together as a community and there is a standard discussion forum with more engaged audience.  There are discussions and conversations taking place and reaching engaged audience.

Another benefit is from the link front.  Albeit, there is no link juice given, but you can get some really great direct and engaged traffic if you put links in the image caption.  Overall, Flickr is cheap, easy to use and provides tons of value.

Twitter: This is great for getting information out receiving instant feedback.  It’s good for both traffic and links.  Think about it like giant wall covered a variety of comments organized by type of message and differentiated by color.  In essence, create your own, unique listening board.

The different kinds of messages are:   1)  Messages to only you (Direct Message). 2)  Messages about you (@username).  3)  Messages you want to hear.

You can also Retweet ( RT) messages and propagate information by word of mouth  and it could possibly go viral.  The power of RT is that it goes from network to network with the potential of reaching 1000s of people in minutes.   Twitter is great for news and a great way to spread information.  Twitter also provides a low barrier to entry and it is easy to sign up, follow and get into the conversation.

YouTube: Since lots of people use it and search on it, it makes a very powerful place to get messages out.  You can add titles, tags and optimize like you would in Google and then feed them back to website.  YouTube is also great on the budget.

A great example is the “Will it blend?” videos.  This high end blender retailer took advantage of the coverage.  With creative and entertaining videos blending an array of items, they successfully caught peoples’ eyes and at the same time showed the strength of their product.  Their reward…700% increase in online sales.

LinkedIn: This is a great place for business professionals.  With LinkedIn, users have the ability to see how they are connected to other people.  You can see how many degrees you are away from somebody.  It is a great way to make valuable connections.

Where do you start? What should you do? To help you decide, picture an inverted triangle with context and competition for attention decreasing as you move down .  At the top of the picture sits blogs and articles.  Next are social reviews. Further down are discussion forums, then search results, then social news.

Finally at the bottom with low context and low competition for attention sits micro blogging (i.e. Twitter).  Context goes up while competition for attention goes down upside .  While the bottom is the place to get the most bang for your buck, the top is the best place to start.

Next  came an engaging Q&A:

Q: How has marketing changed?

CK:  Research is done online now before buying.  Information is now coming from consumers not sales people.
AN:  The volume and pace is overwhelming.
JEL:  Marketing has come full circle.  We are back  to where we were a long time ago.  It is again about building relationships and delivering on the information gained.   It has changed back to the way it was except we have better tools now.

Q:  How Facebook monetizing?

TK:  98% is from advertising.  Both engagement ads and self service CPC offerings are provided.  Users can target.

Q:  What can you see small business’s  doing in Facebook?
TK:  Use ads and the free set of tools to reach customers.  Set up pages so users can affiliate and become fans.

Q:  How can small businesses get past the negative impact when peoples say bad things.  There is a  fear around this.

CK:  Most likely, people are already saying it somewhere.  Now they are telling you.   Use it as an opportunity to start a conversation with them.
AN:  Social media didn’t create criticism.  It is just that much easier to hear it.  Negative comments are  an opportunity.   Ask yourself what you can do to fix the problem.

Tim Kendall  presented next and suggestsed building your customer base with Facebook.

Start by building a presence with a profile (pages).  In the new format, pages now behave much like a user profile.    You have the ability to share, add photos, and video.  These all show up on your wall and are published to all people following you.    Additionally, you can gain valuable insight and feedback on and from your users for free.  Within Facebook, you can look at information about your fan base and split into demographics such as gender and age.

Most importantly, Facebook  can be a powerful viral distribution tools.  For example, you could build an audience by engaging them with an ad that goes to a page that they can become  fans.  The function of Facebook is great because it reaches a large customer base with little or no money.

Another great point is in regard to discovery and demand fulfillment.  For example, “Kindle 2” has about 2900 searches in the realm of Google paid search.  It’s also possible that many people may not go to Google but are predisposed to buying.  Could these people be the 3 million people who  have indicated they like “reading” in Facebook, but may not search?  Creating a targeted, very specific ad is powerful tool to use.

Lastly, Kendall responded to a question regarding when Facebook plans on incorporating conversion tracking.  His answer… they are working on both an API and conversion tracking.  ETA on the API is summer and no commitment to timing of the conversion tracking.

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