Small Business, Big Thinking: Converting “Likes” and “Shares”

by Jason Hari

So, your small business has a page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+. Great! You know how you want to deliver your social media marketing efforts. Now you just have to create messaging that works for both your audience, and for the platform.

Successful social networking = Plenty of “liking” and “sharing”

A take-home from the IGNITION 2012: The Future of Digital conference in NYC last November: social networking continues to rise in popularity in all global markets, and from a marketing perspective, its strength is not in direct ad referrals. If some traditional marketing campaign tactics don’t work in the social networking environment, how do you convert your “likes” and “shares,” retweets, repins, +1s and endorsements/recommendations into effective marketing?

1. Stay on it.

Do you only update your social media networks when you have a product you want to launch, or an announcement you want to make? Always be consistent with your social media presence, to create an online community around your brand – if daily updates are difficult to work into your schedule, then do weekly updates or updates every other day. A monthly e-newsletter is fine, but updating your social media presence once a month is too little, too late – your followers and “likers” will lose interest quickly, may stop frequenting your pages, and may not expect your updates to contain any information of wider interest – which discourages views and clickthroughs. Also, because of the way the Twitter feed and the Facebook news feed work, the frequency of your posts/tweets will help ensure that your message appears in front of as many eyeballs as possible, as often as possible.

2. Link yourself.

Do you include contact or linking information in your social media communications? Always include a way for someone else to “find” you online, in anything you repost, retweet, repin, +1 or share, on any social media platform. This means tagging yourself, your company, your partners or affiliates; use hashtags that people will look for (such as #deal, if you just tweeted about a product or service offer) or include links to your website or relevant page. Think that’s too much? Check out what your competition is doing – you’ll see that they’re already doing all of the above, and if they aren’t yet, this is the opportunity to get your business front and centre to your target consumer.

3. Be generous.

Do your updates only offer information directly related to you, your business or your product? If you share any other information, is it only about or for your direct partner organizations? Can you identify any external organization or person you’d consider a core part of your social media network? Always cross-promote: share information about topics related to your business, but that aren’t necessarily directly about or from your business, existing partners or product. This way, you will be more likely to expand the reach of your social media network, awareness about your business and, ultimately, increase the effectiveness of your marketing. Be the first to recommend or endorse someone on LinkedIn, before asking for a recommendation. Run a search for terms related to your business or product/service, and find other organizations to “like” or follow online. Check your social media feeds a few times a day, and when something interesting related to your industry, sector or product pops up, share it, “like” it or comment on it. Because of the way social media works, others will follow you back, share and comment on your updates, or recommend/endorse you in return. This will raise the effectiveness of your social media marketing with exposure to more potential customers and partners, and help to create your own social media community based on trust and goodwill.

4. Don’t push it.

Do your updates use a “hard sell” message? Always focus on creating awareness and establishing presence, authority and goodwill online; in a social media context, that’s effective networking. Because of the way social media works, your potential customers and partners will find you as they browse and search, they will be attracted by the content of your updates and they will be converted. Remember, statistics show that direct advertising tactics and messaging are less effective in a social networking context.

5. Champion causes.

Do you partner with, or contribute to, not-for-profit, charitable or social cause-related organizations, and are they using social media? Always consider the “causes” angle for your social networking campaigns. Whether you think local or global, choose a cause or topic associated with your brand, or create a following for that cause or topic as a rallying point within your own social media community. People who aren’t attracted to brands, products or services may be attracted to causes – and to the businesses that support those causes. This speaks to how your business can profit from corporate social responsibility – through effectively driving greater brand awareness.

Jason Hari (ca.linkedin.com/in/jasonhari/) is a Vancouver-based entrepreneur with a vision for evolving business on a global scale. He has a background in strategic real estate investment/advisement/business development, with more than 22 years of domestic and international success with Fortune 100/200/500 private companies and the private sector within the CPG, software and real estate industries. His latest startup, Global Coupon (www.globalcoupon.com), is an international digital brand marketing platform and scalable, integrated business model to drive B2C and B2B profitable sales. A version of this posting has appeared in the Global Coupon blog.

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