In a Weak Economy, Try Social Media

2 Sep 2010 | written by Phyllis Zimbler Miller for the Small Business Tips, Social Networking section(s)

In a Weak Economy, Try Social Media

In a series of conversations with small business owners in Los Angeles, I’ve been told repeatedly that, because business is down, business owners need to find ways to reach new customers. Yet when I explain how social media marketing can help reach targeted customers, I get basically the same response from almost everyone:

“I don’t know who would do it – I’m already so busy every day running the business.”

Or from an employee on commission: “I don’t even have a computer at work – I’d have to do this on my computer at home.”

Now let’s remind ourselves what these business owners and employees on commission first said:  Business is down, and they need more customers/clients.

Change can be tough

I know that change can be difficult.  But when things are not going well, it seems rather obvious that now is the time to enthusiastically try new things.

Before I go any further, let me highly recommend two books (I have no connection to either one):

The first is “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck. In an extremely easy-to-read writing style, she explains how a closed mindset can impede learning new things. The second is the new book “Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath (authors of “Made to Stick“). This book gives very specific ideas on what is needed to implement change (e.g., appealing to reason and emotion plus changing the current situation to help promote successful change).

If you fall into the category of needing more business but are afraid to try something new–like social media marketing–then you definitely need read these books right now. Let’s proceed with the understanding that you have an open mind to new things and are willing to change what you’ve been doing up to now.

Social media isn’t a silver bullet

So why social media? Because once you learn how to do it effectively, you can use it to get up close and personal with targeted prospective customers without paying for TV ads, print ads, Yellow Page ads, radio ads, or really any kind of ad! Of course, I feel that every business should have a social media-friendly and search-engine friendly website as a company’s home base.  But what if you don’t have a website yet and money is tight?

You start right now with a Facebook business page.  This type of page on Facebook isn’t your personal page with which you get “friends.”  Facebook designed the business page (up until recently called a fan page) with the intent to help you promote your business. And by adding the FBML (a simplified html) application to your Facebook business page, you can even have an email opt-in box for use in permission-based email marketing campaigns. To see an example of this kind of page, visit the Miller Mosaic Power Marketing Facebook page, and then join the page by clicking on the “Like” button.

Finding time to do social media marketing

Let me tell you a little secret:  Once you have effective pages set up on the top three social media sites for business promotion (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and have a strategy specific to your business, you can get by with 30 minutes a day spread out over the entire day. If you have discipline and don’t let yourself get distracted by all the terrific information on one of these platforms (set a timer if you are easily distracted), you can easily share worthwhile information on Twitter and automatically send that tweet through to your Facebook business page and to your LinkedIn account. There are also techniques for quickly finding worthwhile information to share so that you don’t have to spend time writing blog posts (if you don’t enjoy writing) or spending hours looking for other people’s information to retweet.

For a kick start on effectively using social media to promote your business, see the Miller Mosaic Quick Start Social Media Track.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  • Aggie Villanueva |   Sep 3rd, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Phyllis, as always your advice is what the doctor ordered. You nailed SM marketing description when you said to use it, “to get up close and personal with targeted prospective customers…”

  • Roger C. Parker |   Sep 3rd, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Dear Phyllis:
    Thank you for not only sharing some very practical and useful information, but for providing a realistic context for the information, i.e., “not a silver bullet.”

    All too often, the benefits of specific online marketing tactics are delivered in an over-promised way; your advice is always practical and tempered by realism.

    Best wishes, Roger

  • Aaron |   Sep 3rd, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks for the post! I am so into social media right now, especially facebook marketing and furthermore, FBML!
    I love reading all that I can about these topics so thanks again for this great post. I’ve found blog posts and Fan Page Factory http://www.facebook.com/fanpagefactory to be the most helpful sources on these topics. Enjoy!

    Aaron

  • Phyllis Zimbler Miller |   Sep 4th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Aggie, Roger and Aaron –

    Thank you so much for these comments — I’m glad you all found the information in this post helpful.

    Social media can be very powerful, but it is not achieved by a simple wave of a magic wand. It does take an open mind and the willingness to commit to sharing information.

  • Stephen W. Weiss |   Sep 6th, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Great post Phyllis! I completely agree with you (and Carol Dweck) when stating about how a closed mind will limit your learning growth. Which will lead to a less educated business. I feel that the older generation is more closed minded to Social Media because they do not understand how/why social media works compared to the younger generations who have basically grown up with it.

Leave a Reply