Winning in small business with social media

Social Media Can Be OverwhelmingFacebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Squidoo, the list goes on and on. Social media is still hot and people will tell you that if you are not in on social media your business will suffer. It may seem like everyone has a Facebook fan page these days and you may be feeling left out. Before you start diving in and shelling out the cash with an “expert” or buy a “system” that will “do all the work for you” there are some key actions you should do first to ensure you come out a winner in the social media arena.

Focus on RPAs

RPAs or Revenue Producing Activities are the actions that make your business grow and make you money. While it may seem obvious, I have seen many people lose precious time and money trying to figure out how to build a business with social media. That is precious time they could have been using to make money and instead lost it trying to figure out if a Facebook fan page was better than a Facebook group.

Social media can be a black hole sucking your time and energy as well as your money if you are not careful. That is why it is vital that you create a plan and stay focused on that plan with laser like precision.

Your social media plan should be part of the marketing section of your business plan. I cannot stress how important it is to know up front what you are going to do and how you will do it. Here are some key questions you should answer in your business plan:

  1. Where are your customers hanging out online? For example, what groups or pages do they visit on Facebook?
  2. Is your business local, regional, national or global?
  3. Are you going to pay someone to do it for you or are you going to do it yourself?
  4. What do you consider success for your social media efforts?

As a general rule anytime you get ready to do something for your business you should always ask your self if it is going to make you money and/or grow your business. If the answer is no, don’t do it no matter how tempting. A good plan will ensure that you can truthfully answer that question.

Avoid the Spam & Scams

If only this was as easy as it sounds. With a little bit of elbow grease and some know-how anyone can “look” like they know what they are doing. Their pages look impressive, their systems are loaded with amazing testimonials and, Wouldnt it be great if all scammers looked like this?for some reason, you start to feel like you are missing out if you don’t buy their product or system. The truth is that very few of them are making money and most of their success is typically from residuals made by luring in people like yourself into their system. Then the cycle continues and now it is your job to push their system in the hopes of making a buck. In the end, many of these systems simply feed on themselves.

Here is a good hint: The people that are finding real success don’t constantly spam their social media sites such as their facebook wall. There is no need and they know that it does not work. The more spam you post the less people will pay attention to you and the only people you will end up attracting are the ones hoping to get you into THEIR system. It is called “reverse recruiting”.

I still find it interesting how the smartest among us seem to leave our brains in another room when we go online. We are good at spotting the charlatans at a trade show (every trade show has 1 or 2 of them) but end up falling for the same scam online. The same rules apply offline as they do online. If it sounds too good to be true…

Here is the best way to help avoid the pretenders and scammers online. Stick to your plan. Plain and simple.

Before you do anything you should always ask 2 simple questions:

  1. Is this part of my plan?
  2. Is this an RPA (Revenue Producing Activity)?

If you have a solid plan you will steer clear of the distractions that could hurt your business. However, if you don’t have a good plan, you can never answer those questions correctly.

Be Interesting

Everyone that reads your posts always asks “What is in it for me?” (otherwise known as WIIFM). If it is not interesting to them they simply will not pay attention to you or the services and products you offer.

When you make a post ask yourself these questions:

  • Why should anyone want to read my post?
  • Why would anyone want to like my page?

Remember, you are your brand. As much as you may want to keep your personal Facebook page separate from your business, what you post on both pages matter and will have an impact on your customers.

This is why it is so important to be your brand. What do you want people to think when they see your picture? How do you want people to remember you when your name or product is mentioned?

Also remember that the Internet is forever. Whatever you post, email or comment can and will come back to haunt you. Here are a couple of simple rules to follow:

  1. Do not go online if you are upset or depressed – Call a good friend instead.
  2. If it feels good to write, there is a good chance it will be bad for your business.

Encourage Conversations

Posting something in Facebook means your friends MAY see it in their news feed. Don’t assume everyone is reading your posts as they may never even show up in their news feed.Encourage conversations to get noticed.

In order to help increase your visibility you need audience participation by encouraging conversations. Not only will it help increase your visibility but people will start looking out specifically for your posts and you will become foremost in their mind when they do need your service or product.

Take a look at the fan pages and groups that do show up on your news feed and you will start to see a common trait. Many of them encourage and reward participation. How do you reward participation? Simple – respond to their post positively. Add some information that helps move the conversation along. Nothing makes someone feel better than to have others like what they said and reply in a positive way to the thread. Don’t be afraid to comment on our own post. You may have more to say than can fit on the initial post – add that in a comment and reply when others make comments to help move the conversation along.

Razorfish published a study a while back asking consumers why they fan and follow brands. The greatest percentage said it was for the exclusive deals & offers. Don’t make your page nothing but deals but you do want to make sure you include special deals and offers. Gempowerment (owned and operated by my wonderful wife, Lisa) once a month will offer a free consultation to the first 3 people that reply to her post. It is a great idea that encourages people to keep an eye out for her posts so they don’t miss out the next time and helps keep her and her services foremost on their minds.

Be Safe

Protecting yourself online needs to be just as important as promoting your services and products. Many social media sites encourage you to post information that identity thieves can use to hurt you. There are countless sites that offer some great advice to keep yourself safe. Here are some tips that will help protect your identity:

  • Don’t publish your real Birthday – Change the birth year and make the birth day a few days away from your real one. Keeping it close to your real birthday is important so you don’t get confused when you start getting birthday wishes and your birthday is still 6 months away.
  • Post info about trips after you return – By now all of us have seen the news reports of houses that got robbed because they posted about their vacation. Feel free to post all you want about your incredible trip – just don’t post anything until after you return.
  • Avoid “out of office” auto replies as well
  • Be careful about clicking on links sent to you – Accounts are getting hacked all the time so even if the link comes from someone you trust implicitly, don’t click on it until you verify from them they meant to send it to you.
  • Avoid sensationalist groups – We have all seen them. They talk about getting into the Guinness Book of World Records or speak out against some horrible practice. There was a group on Facebook that encouraged you to join and stand up against feeding puppies to sharks – I kid you not. These groups are there to harvest your information and the more benign ones will drive you to a site where they get paid to show you advertisements.

Social media can seem overwhelming and it is easy to get lost trying to make it work, however, it should be an important part of your business plan and, if worked correctly, can help grow your business. By following these tips and hints you can improve your ability to grow your small business with social media.

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6 Responses to “Winning in small business with social media”

  1. Sandi says:

    Awesome advice Chris. Great insight!!

  2. Nancy Radlinger says:

    This is an excellent post and so much good advice. You have so hit the nail on the head about people focusing on the social media for the wrong reason and not staying focused on their RPAs .

    Skype: nancyradlinger

  3. Chris Kavas says:

    Thanks for your kind words. I agree, about RPAs. A lot of us would have stronger businesses if we just keep focused on our RPAs.

  4. Keith Dennis says:

    Thanks so much for all of the good advice! Social media can be confusing, there are so many options and likes, tweets, and it takes a while just to figure out how it all works and to keep it all straight!

    Like, when I like my own YouTube video – it goes to Facebook, twitter, and Myspace but not my fanpage, have to like it again to get it there sometimes. That is just one account at YouTube not to mention the other 30 or so marketing avenues I use.

    I like your advice about spammers and experience the reverse recruitment often. My main product actually works well for that so I do it on purpose!

    Your advice on the vacation posts is especially good for security reasons. I did have a friend that got their house broken into in that exact situation.

    Thanks for the post!


  5. Chris Kavas says:

    Thanks Keith, sorry to hear about your friend. I am still waiting to hear about the bad guys using four square to learn when you are away.

  6. Great post! Found you on Pinterest. Cheers!

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