As much as we strive for things to remain the same change is bound to happen. There is a new economy forming and while we may have collectively noticed it I am not sure we yet understand it. Not since the printing press almost 600 years ago has the world gone through such a significant change in the availability of information.
What this new social media economy has really done is to give power directly to the people. The average consumer has never had a larger voice than he or she does today.
Think of it. A house wife with five thousand followers can make a post about the bad service she got at your auto body shop and destroy your reputation. If it goes viral you could even be closed in weeks.
While most business owners are scared to death of this new consumer power I find it to be an amazing opportunity to grow my business. I have the same power that the housewife does as I can create a following and market directly to them without the middleman. It is so inexpensive I don’t understand why more businesses are not using this powerful medium. This is the only place that a Mom and Pop business can not only compete with the big brands like Ford or Coca-Cola but can actually outdo them. The only excuse to not using this new power could be fear or laziness.
Here are some guidelines to using social media to market your business but keep in mind that the rules change quickly. That’s why you can compete. The big boys can’t turn on a dime but you can. You really do have the advantage here. Let’s use it. Follow me into the jungle.
- Become a student of social media. Yes, Facebook is the 500lb gorilla in the room and you’re crazy if your business doesn’t have a presence there, but, and this is a big but, while Facebook is still growing, Snapchat is the fastest growing social media platform on the planet and Instagram is the second largest platform following Facebook by just a few. For the over 40 crowd Facebook will most likely remain the king for a while but if your market is a younger audience get snapchat now. Twitter is still alive but is losing ground every day. Be a practitioner. Learn these now.
- Become a media company. I don’t care what your business is you are now a media company. Your new job is to document what goes on in your business. I did not say create content, I said document. 80% of your content should either entertain or educate. You have to add value to the consumer before you can use that 20% for direct sales. Don’t worry so much about the quality if you’re doing video. Low quality video actually looks more homegrown and people dig that.
- Cut your budget with traditional advertising. At 1933 we have cut 90% of our traditional advertising dollars (print, radio, TV) and redirected a portion of that to social media. At Stafford’s Market & Deli we have cut 100% of traditional advertising. The result has been a higher top of mind, a better reputation, and yes, increased sales on less advertising dollars. I know this will upset my friends that own papers and radio stations but this is the hard truth.
- Post Daily. It is very hard to post on a daily basis on all of these platforms but you must. DO NOT always post about selling. The idea here is top of mind. It is free to post so why not. It could be as simple as a shout out to a great customer on their birthday. The bottom line is post.
- Pay to play. Advertising on Facebook is the cheapest form of contact with the consumer in the world today. Period. Twenty dollars gets you a ton of exposure. As more businesses begin to use this form of advertising it will go up in price. Now you can advertise on Instagram and I have used Snapchat Geofilters with great success for only five dollars. Because they used to get so many organic views for free, your business friends will stand by and complain about the pay to play algorithms of social media, while you leave them in the dust for pennies.
The Social Economy is a good thing for small business if you take advantage of that now. Build your audience. Some will laugh at you but you are ahead of the curve. The trailblazers are always laughed at. Some will even say that we are ruining social media by marketing there. If so my goal is to totally destroy social media by selling my brand.
In the end the big brands will catch on. They already are to a degree. We will look back on this as the best days of social media and the Social Economy. A lot of people are going to become very wealthy in this new normal. Why not you?
Stafford Shurden is a marketing and business coach and has been in business for himself for 20 years. He also owns 1933 Restaurant, Shurden Farms, and Stafford Media. You can email Stafford at firstname.lastname@example.org