With as many social media services as there are fish in the ocean, it gets very confusing for anyone to keep up with what’s what. While early adopters are raving about which service will be this year’s darling, for small businesses kicking off their social marketing campaign this discussion is completely irrelevant. To get their feet on the ground and establish a presence on social media, they really need to start off with 5 basic services. Now that doesn’t mean those services will be the end all of all services, they are just the essentials and are going to be the framework with which SMB will build upon in the future.
A consistent brand is essential to any marketing presence, the name check website is a great tool to allow you to secure your brand’s name on the top social media sites, even if you don’t plan on using all of them.
Twitter is the 140-character messaging sensation of 2009, and it’s a great channel for SMB to provide support for their customers. There are a few must-dos on Twitter to set up the SMB for success: SMB’s need to make sure to customize their background, commit to sending messages at least twice a day and garner followers of their Twitter account by following their current and prospective customers. Also, a need exists for creating accounts for the companies employees and allowing them to use the service as well since it’s always a good move to adding a human face to the brand.
A great tool to manage all the information that is available on Twitter is Hootsuite. It will allow the SMB to control to multiple accounts, schedule messages and monitor the Twitter information stream.
With 1.6 million “active” pages, Facebook is always buzzing and that makes it a must have tool for SMB’s. Setting up a Facebook page is slightly different than setting up a personal account as it simplifies the management; no longer requiring any friend management since it is handled automatically. This page will provide a public profile for the company and will allow Facebook users to promote the brand by becoming fans of the company or its products.
There are many applications and tools that can be added to a Facebook page, from ones that aggregate posts from your blog and Twitter to others that allow you to upload your own flash videos. Best method in making a decision on what’s needed is to check what competitors have done with their pages.
This is a social media staple, through a blog an SMB will be able to put out longer-form information regarding them, their products, events or anything else. It will also help by centralizing the message they will provide through other social media tools by linking to some of the posts at the blog. The other advantage is that a blog gives a business a human face and allows customers to interact immediately with the business providing an excellent feedback tool and space.
WordPress is a great platform to get started with establishing a blog, and the hosted solution from wordpress.com will not require a manual set up and can vastly simplify the management of the blog.
Business networking is an entirely different beast than social networking with an emphasis on getting leads, keeping up with an ever evolving market, and communicating with others in the field. LinkedIn is the defacto tool for business networking, and the LinkedIn groups will allow you to connect to like minded individuals and business with forums for valuable discussions on a variety of pertaining topics which will allow SMB’s to get leads on new partnerships or even new qualified staff members. With its new faceted search, it allows people to find information or people faster and in a much more sleeker fashion.
Now managing a social media presence can be time consuming, and it is best to have a person in charge of managing all those various accounts and maintaining a consistent brand tone and voice across all platforms. Although those are not all the tools out there, however, with those 5 tools an SMB will be able to get started by establishing a framework for it’s social media marketing venture and set the ground work for further expansion in the future.
Do you have any tips for small businesses establishing a new presence on social media? What are the tools that would help them manage that presence? Share your experiences with us in the comment section.