Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Social media for the small business owner

We just attended the New North’s Best Practices Panel Discussion about Social Media. The speakers were Heidi Strand, co-owner of Blue Door Consulting; Dana VanDen Heuvel, the Marketing Savant; and Margie Harvey, VP of Human Resources at Miles Kimball Company. Here are a few practical pointers taken from these experts to help the small business owner or entrepreneur get started on your social media journey.

First you need to develop a social media strategy. How will social media fit into your overall marketing strategy? What do you want to achieve from your social media interactions? Are you hoping to improve brand awareness or do you want to increase your sales? Once you have determined your goal, you need to consider who your customers are and where they are in the world of social media. You do not want to be concentrating on developing a Facebook Fan page if your customers are not on Facebook. How do you know what social media outlets your customers are using? Ask them. It can be as simple as that. While you are considering who your customers are currently, also think about whom you want them to be in the future. Good social media work can help pull in an entirely new customer stream.

Make sure that your foray into social media starts small. Chose one tool to begin with and focus on mastering it. Spend the time making sure that your content is relevant, useful and well executed, but don’t spend so much time trying to refine your efforts that you don’t get the job done. As Heidi Strand quoted, “Perfection is the enemy of done”. In the quick fire world of social media, some imperfection is expected and tolerated.

The final thing to remember is that you must commit some time and resources to your social media interactions to make them work. Schedule regular time into your week to blog, tweet, LinkIn or write your online newsletter.

If you are in the New North region, considering attending these quarterly presentations because they are always relevant and worthwhile.

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