7 Social Media Tips for Small Business Owners

Stephanie Miles has seven good tips on social media for small business owners, posted over at Street Fight, as 7 Social Media Strategies for Small Business Owners. Who cares that they’re more tips than strategies? Not me. As long as they’re useful. Here’s a summarized version of her list (although comments are mine):

  1. Start measuring immediately. Stephanie talks about knowing which posts are working and which aren’t, and I think of also tweets and retweets, everything you can. You want to think about results. She says “By choosing some metrics that are important and keeping track of those measurements early on, businesses can generate benchmarks that they can look back at to see how they’re faring over time.” I add a note of caution: participation in social media is not an activity that lends itself to instant measurement. What’s the return on investment of time and effort on participating in a community, sharing expertise and content, and, gradually, getting people to know, like, and trust you? That comes over time.
  2. Timing is everything. Some times of day are better than others. For example, restaurants may benefit from tweeting specials during lunchtime. She says “The best days to send messages are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, since Monday is a catch-up day and Friday is too close to the weekend.”
  3. Use the right platforms. Stephanie says as examples that “photos are great on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram, but they don’t have the same impact when posted on Twitter. Business owners should experiment to learn which types of content work best on which platforms, and then do more of whatever produces the greatest results.”
  4. Treat social media as a two-way street. This is so important. It’s not just shouting ad slogans, but engaging in something like conversation.
  5. Offer exclusive deals and discounts. Really? Stephanie says people follow brands to get special deals and offers. I say that may be true for some discount retail and cheap food stops, maybe; but for a lot of businesses the goal is presence of mind and developing a persona identified with the right kind of content and caring.  Special deals and offers get old, and they turn people off. In my opinion.
  6. Get smart about check-in sites. I guess this depends on your type of business. For traditional retail, perhaps, but not for every business. Stephanie writes: “Check-in sites like Foursquare provide an excellent opportunity for cross promotion. Businesses can tweet at customers checking-in to thank them for visiting, and then ask those customers to leave their feedback on sites like Google Places and Yelp. Foursquare is also a great place for customer acquisition, since businesses can actively reach out to people checking-in at competing establishments with special offers or deals meant to bring those people in.”
  7. Integrate social media into other business systems. It’s about business and business goals, not just about being popular. Stephanie suggests:  ‘By integrating social channels with existing systems like Google Analytics and Omniture, and using a social media management system, companies can connect the dots and see the role social media is playing in their overall marketing efforts. Business owners should track the traffic that social media networks are driving to their websites and find out whether social media is converting certain activities into pre-defined goals, like sales or customer acquisition.”

So this is a goods list, despite my doubts about tips numbers 5 and 6.

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