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5 Ways to Use Social Media for Things You Are Already Doing

One of the biggest road blocks facing small businesses when addressing social media is the question of return on investment. With so little time devote to what’s crying out to be done, adding something else or something new like social media can feel like a real burden. Sometimes the only way to rationalize and prioritize something new is to understand the benefits in relation to everything else your doing and take a new view based on that understanding.

puzzleSo much of what’s written on social media amounts to lists of things you should do, get on twitter, blog, create a Facebook fan page, and not enough on why you might consider doing it. While all those tactics may indeed be wise, I would like suggest a number of ways to use those actions to do a better or more efficient job doing things you’re already (or should be) doing.

Start to think in terms of doing more with less effort, not simply doing more. If I can let small business owners get a glimpse of social media through this lens, they might just decide to go a little deeper. Here are five ways to look at it.

1) Follow up with prospects

I love using social media tools as a way to follow-up with prospects you might meet out there in the real world. So you go to a Chamber event and meet someone that has asked you to follow-up. Traditionally, you might send an email a week later or call them up and leave a voice mail. What if instead you found them on LinkedIn, asked to be connected and then shared an information rich article that contained tips about the very thing you chatted about at the Chamber mixer. Then you offered to show them how to create a custom RSS feed to get tons of information about their industry and their competitors. Do you think that next meeting might get started a little quicker towards your objectives? I sure do.

2) Stay top of mind with customers

Once someone becomes a customer it’s easy to ignore them, assuming they will call next time they need something or, worse yet, assuming they understand the full depth and breadth of your offerings and will chime in when they have other needs. Staying in front of your customers and continuing to educate and upsell them is a key ingredient to building marketing momentum and few businesses do it well.

This is an area where a host of social media tools can excel. A blog is a great place to put out a steady stream of useful information and success stories. Encouraging your customers to subscribe and comment can lead to further engagement. Recording video stories from customers and uploading them to YouTube to embed on your site can create great marketing content and remind your customer why they do business with you. Facebook Fan pages can be used as a way to implement a client community and offer education and networking opportunities online.

3) Keep up on your industry

Keeping up with what’s happening in any industry is a task that is essential these days. With unparalleled access to information many clients can learn as much or more about the products and solutions offered by a company as those charged with suggesting those products and solutions. You better keep up or you risk becoming irrelevant. Of course I could extend this to keeping up with what your customers, competitors, and key industry journalists are doing as well.

Here again, new monitoring services and tools steeped in social media and real time reporting make this an easier task. Subscribing to blogs written by industry leaders, competitors and journalists and viewing new content by way of a tool such as Google Reader allows you to scan the day’s content in one place. Setting up Google Alerts and custom Twitter Searches (see more about how to do this) or checking out paid monitoring services such as Radian6 or Trackur allows you to receive daily email reports on the important mentions of industry terms and people so you are up to the minute in the know. (Of course, once you do this you can teach your customers how to do it and make yourself even more valuable to them – no matter what you sell.)

4) Provide a better customer experience

It’s probably impossible to provide too much customer service, too much of a great experience, but you can go nuts trying.

Using the new breed of online tools you can plug some of the gaps you might have in providing customer service and, combined with your offline touches, create an experience that no competitor can match.

While some might not lump this tool into social media, I certainly think any tool that allows you to collaborate with and serve your customers qualifies. Using an online project management tool such as Central Desktop allows you to create an entire customer education, orientation, and handbook kind of training experience one time and then roll it out to each new customer in a high tech client portal kind of way. This approach can easily set you apart from anyone else in your industry and provide the kind of experience that gets customers talking.

5) Network with potential partners

Building a strong network of strategic marketing partners is probably the best defense against any kind of economic downturn. One of the surest ways to attract potential partners is to build relationships through networking. Of course you know that, but you might not be viewing this kind of networking as a social media function.

If you identify a potential strategic partner, find out if they have a blog and start reading and commenting. Few things will get you noticed faster than smart, genuine blog comments. Once you establish this relationship it might make sense to offer a guest blog post. If your use a CRM tool (and you should) you’ve probably noticed that most are moving to add social media information to contact records, add your potential partners social media information and you will learn what’s important to them pretty quickly.

If you know how to set up a blog already, offer to create a blog of network partners so each of you can write about your area of expertise and create some great local SEO for the group.

So, you see, you don’t have to bite into the entire social media pie all at once. Find a tool, a technique, a tactic that makes your life easier today and provides more value for partners, prospects and customers and you’ll be on the path to getting some real ROI on your social media investment.

What social media tactics have you discovered that allow you to do more of something you’re already doing?

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  • http://www.ronsmap.com ronmorrison

    I liked your post. It appears to the naked eye that each of the issues that you listed costs the small business owner time. But the exchange, the recency, credibility, and edge gained from trading a bit of her time each day in social media brings immeasurable returns. It's funny, it's many of the same arguments that existed when email was touted as a good supplement to phone usage.
    Thank again!

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    The emphasis of this post was to be on things that marketers are or should already be doing, so the case I would like to make here is that it's an exchange or even savings of time to do a better job and build deeper relationships.

  • http://jjscoaching.com/ Melanie

    This is a great post and one I intend to save to show to a few of my clients who still are very resistant against using social media in any way because they fail to see the value in it.

  • http://www.SharedMarketing.com/ Michelle

    Melanie –
    We see the same thing with our clients. Even though we've been emphasizing the importance of social media to our clients for well over a year, we find many points of contact don't buy in until it's their idea. Other times, many of the conversations we have seem to elicit the “That's nice” response until it becomes a more company-wide initiative.

    Social media seems to be an area where a lot of people inside more “traditional” companies are a bit afraid to stick their neck out and give it a try. I'm with you that this article will be a great source to hit them again with some of these ideas and reinforce to them the value of social media to what they're already doing.

    I'd love to hear comments from other folks on what has worked for them in demonstrating the true value of social media to clients!

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Some times you just have to get a few wins with clients before they start to see the big picture. Good luck

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    I would love to hear too!

    I think the biggest pull back I hear from small business folks is just how over-hyped Social Media gets. That actually scares small business folks away because most of the hype is focused on the silly stuff done by celebs.

  • http://www.SharedMarketing.com/ Michelle

    We do hear that, but more than once, I've heard a business owner bring up the concern that if they “endorsed” social media by having a presence, that would somehow create productivity problems in the future. That if it's ok for the business to have a fan page on facebook, for example, that employees would think it's ok to do their social networking from work.

    Of course, in these cases, the biggest disconnect is that managers for whom that would be their biggest concern aren't seeing the upside of social media. They still social media as a “toy” of sorts, and until that is overcome, much resistance will remain. It does all come down to education, success stories, etc. to break through, but in some cases, it's not just lack of positive perception that has to be overcome but an actual negative one, as well.

  • http://corporatecosmo.com/ Nan Ross

    Thanks for the reminder! I think we tend to focus more on keeping up with our industry, we fail to follow up on our prospects. Time changes and your past prospects can be your client today.

  • http://nigelburke.com Nigel Burke

    If a small business owner followed your guidelines, they would be known as a leader in their field. They are putting the time and the effort into social media and using it properly.

    It seems that many small business owners are too busy to do anything these days!

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  • newbie

    I like your article.It's full of substance. I will share this with my friends as additional information/knowledge. Not only the professionals would benefit from tnis but students as well. great work.

  • http://www.elementinvesting.com/ Element Investing

    I couldn't agree more with your third point. Understanding your industry is absolutely essential to creating relevant content and contributes to your other points of providing a better customer experience and staying top of mind. I think the Google Alerts is a great way to help with this, especially if new information about your industry is sparse or difficult to find.

  • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

    John

    Great reminders here. I find that people are afraid to partner with others due to the potential competition and exposure of the non-existent highly confidential marketing secrets. Consumers demand more as we give them more, consumers are more savvy because they can be and companies need to be fully understanding of what it takes to be competitive in todays marketplace. Social media is a part of it whether they are engaging online or at the very least monitoring what is being said about them and/or their industry.

    The tools are available where what 8 yrs ago they were not and keeping up on industry trends meant a whole lot of magazine subscriptions to trade pubs. Staying on top of and reaching out to people when you say that you will goes a long way.

    @SuzanneVara

  • munchkins505

    Thanks for the post. Good stuff! Has anyone ever tried outsourced
    business development? We have been using http://www.dnavertical.com for our
    needs.they pretty much do it all or point us in the right direction to help
    grow our business. They have a lot of references and recommendations.

  • philsimonsystems

    Great post. I always recommend #2 to my clients. No one is going to come back to your site sans compelling content. I can't think of a business that wouldn't benefit from some type of regular blog.

  • http://getglobalassist.com/ claudia guzman

    This article is full of substance and I will keep this in my mind. Thanks for spurring this out!

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

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  • http://www.rossfattori.com/ Ross Fattori

    You provide some valuable insights about the power of social media in building and maintaining relationships with customers, suppliers and partners. Thanks for the refresher. One of the areas you may want to address in a future post is the topic of blogging, as part of the social media mix. Blogging (if done properly) can be a great tool for reaching out to new and existing customers and helping you to become a recognized expert in your field. I think many people start blogging without a full realization of the time and effort required to maintaining it over the long haul.

  • http://www.therisetothetop.com David Siteman Garland

    John – I can't highlight enough the importance of actually networking like you pointed out. Giving value. Introducing yourself. Being a human.

  • http://www.eOverflowHelp.com/ Denver Virtual Assistant

    I've worked with several companies who've had great success once they finally started their campaigns. But it does take some work, and must be well thought out.

  • http://www.officedeskreviews.com/ Lloyd

    I believe your post says it right. And, as Ronmorrison put it, there are always niches to follow as long as you don't forget to keep close to your object.

    Like any other social structure, social media is beneficial as long as you adequate to the specifics of the group. Marketing is always a matter of focused advertising, we should remember that in every step we take.

  • http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/blog/ Adrian Swinscoe

    Hi John,
    Great post. I particularly like the idea of getting together with network partners to start a blog that we can all contribute to. Off to chat to some of my network partners now about that very thing.

    Thanks,

    Adrian

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Thanks – and let me know if you get that done. I would love to see it.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Amen. I saw a video mini rant by Seth Godin about fake networking and social networking from AMEX OPENForum. A lot truth in it. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0h0LlCu8Ks

  • http://www.DarrenMonroe.com/ Darren Scott Monroe

    Interesting I been thing about doing that with a blog network of partners. Good post

  • http://www.kylegriffith.com/5-facebook-tips-how-to-get-more-followers-be-more-visible/ Kyle Griffith

    Great article John..I really love your first point, I use this myself. Whenever I go to an event and meet some great people I upload the info from there business card and add then to my social networks and it is great way to stay in the conversation.
    Thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.kylegriffith.com/ Kyle Griffith

    Great article John..I really love your first point, I use this myself. Whenever I go to an event and meet some great people I upload the info from there business card and add then to my social networks and it is great way to stay in the conversation.
    Thanks for the tips.

  • http://fastforwardacademy.com/index-page-irs-enrolled-agent-exam-course.htm melissa

    Great post. This is the kind of stuff that marketers should already be doing, so finding a way to tie it in with social networking and media makes total sense. Nicely done.

  • http://www.soula.com/digital-marketing-strategy.php Katie

    Great post, I think when social media became popular a lot of people just jumped straight in some people making mistakes and some people not really understanding now as time has passed we are needing great posts like this to help us get the right results, liked 7 insanely useful ways to search twitter too

  • bniceintime

    Hey John,
    It is amazing how fast things have been moving since I have started to market through social media. My blog has been getting amazing traffic. I still would like to take it to the next level. I can honestly say you have a vast understanding of how to market a single proprietor/small business owner. Just posting to say thanks and I will be continuously following your material. Thanks
    http://b-nice-intime.blogspot.com/
    -BV

  • Maxiosearch

    Great article, thanks for sharing!

    I think it is essential for any blogger and active social networker to know, as you do here, how to explain people, in a simple way, things that seem to be complex. In this article you have resume how simple things of the real life could be made easily and more effectively on the social virtual world with social media tools.

    So my advice for starting entrepreneurs on social media is: Keep it simple and try to find solutions for your day to day work on it. If you got any question related to your business, I suggest Startups.com Q&A as one of the most valuable resources now available!

  • http://zoomerangblog.com/ Isaac

    These 5 examples are a great way to introduce a client to social media marketing that might otherwise be wary. Positioning social media as an added element to what clients are already doing, instead of a whole new ball game, eliminates the barrier to entry.

  • http://www.1blogger1.com Mark

    It's always great to be reminded of what we are supposed to use these for. An amazing tutorial from you too. I never even thought about following up with clients via social media. I am now going to give it a test and see does it improve our relationships (I'm one for building relationships).

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    You may also want to include social networking links, particularly where potential employers can find you on LinkedIn or follow you on