This post is republished from my original article published on the Amex Open Forum website. It is part of "Small Business Friday" on this blog, where I share ideas and marketing techniques specifically to help small businesses stand out. To read more articles like this, visit the "Small Business Friday" category on this blog.
There is a generally accepted statistic in the online world that points to an average of about 1% of any population will be active content creators, 9% will be participants and the other 90% will simply "consume" that content online. If you believe those numbers, then the easy conclusion is to say that 1% is so insignificant that to focus on reaching individuals who fit into this category would just be foolish. In fact, your small business should ask just the opposite question … how many of this 1% can you make into your customers?
Why does this matter so much? Because these individuals are the ones who are actively creating the content that others online will be reading. If you are a contractor, this 1% are the group that will post a review about your services on Angie's List. If you have a retail destination, this 1% will announce they are at your store on Foursquare, blog about it afterwards and post reviews and photos online.
They are an army of online sharers, and they have a few traits in common. They tend to be highly connected with the web and mobile devices, though not always technical. A social media geek could just as easily be a young single male twenty-something programmer, or a married mom with 3 kids in her 40s. The social media geek isn't like your usual technology geek. They aren't turned on by technology for technology's sake … instead they use social media as an extension of their lives and their experiences. They live an amplified life through social media where they can connect with an entire circle of friends and connections who may not necessarily be in the same physical location as they are.
And they are vital to your business because they can apply their amplified voices to help promote what you do. Chances are, you already have a few of these types of customers, but one important ingredient in better selling your business online is to get as many of these people to be fans of your business as you can. Here are 5 techniques to help you do it:
- Ask customers to share and offer exclusives. If there is one prevailing truth about any blogger who happens to be your customer, it is that he or she would love to tell you about their blog and love even more to be treated somehow specially because of it. So start with a simple question and ask your customers to share with you if they have a blog and what it is. This may be as easy as adding a field to any online registration forms. Aside from blogs, you can also ask a similar question about whether they are on Facebook or Twitter and ask them to join a page that you have set up for your business where they can get some exclusive information or offers.
- Let them know what to link to. Anytime anyone is posting content about your business online, they will usually look for a link to share online about your business. If you don't actively share the best URL you want to promote for your business, chances are they will just use a search engine and use all kinds of different sites, including some that may not be your company site at all, but rather a blog post or media article about your business that shows up on search. The more people you can get linking to one URL, the better your site will do on search engine searches, so this should matter to you.
- Support meetups, conferences and groups. In most cities, social media related groups such as the Social Media Club usually put on events and hold gatherings to help people connect with one another in real life. Aside from likely finding many consultants who might be great options to work with to do something broader for your small business, these can be great networking events to introduce your business to social connected people who mostly based in your local area. They may visit your establishment themselves, or just share with others that they spoke with you. Either way, having a chance to make real face to face connections with social media geeks in your area can be invaluable as you work towards promoting your business.
- Follow a "one-a-day" contact strategy. Launching a broad "outreach" campaign seems daunting and most likely won't be in your near term plans, but what if you could do that on a smaller scale. When it comes to social media geeks, one fact of life about them is that they are usually very easy to find and contact through online channels. These are the people who have public Twitter accounts, and who usually share some sort of email address or contact form through their blog. If you could just find one person per day to connect with and share your story about your small business, after several months you would have an arsenal of relationships that could go a long way towards sharing your business with the world.
- Build a social media foundation for your business. Many of the tactics above are things you could try without necessarily being very active in social media for your business directly. At some point, however, you will likely want to complete the picture and build a presence for your business on all the main social media sites. This is just a beginning, so don't be put off by the amount of work that this seems like. Creating a Facebook page for your business can be done in less than 30 minutes, and having a Twitter account in even less. It is important to try and share content as frequently as you can on these channels, but don't let that hold you back from at least starting them and working on using them.