Susan Gunelius, President and CEO of marketing communications company KeySplash Creative, Inc, and the author of multiple business books including “30-Minute Social Media Marketing“, answers some questions on how small businesses can approach social media marketing.
Q. Is it really true that any business can benefit from social media marketing?
Yes, for search engine optimization alone, social media marketing is essential to building a business. When you need to find a business or product, where do you go to get the information? Google. Social media marketing is extremely effective not just in building relationships and brands, two important components of doing business in the 21st century, but also in boosting your rankings on search engine keyword searches.
Q. What’s the first thing a business should do to get involved in social media marketing?
A huge part of social media marketing success is listening to the conversations happening on the social Web and joining those conversations by adding value to them. As you spend time on the social Web, find out where your target audience is already spending time. Listen to and join conversations in order to begin developing relationships. In time, you can create your own branded destinations, such as a business blog, Twitter profile, etc, and then bring those people with whom you’ve already developed relationships over to your destinations.
Q. What do you say to people who claim they don’t have time for social media marketing?
They’re selling themselves short. Every minute you spend on the social Web talking to people and building relationships helps your business in terms of brand building and recognition. Every minute you’re not there is a missed opportunity.
Start small. Spend 5 minutes when you get to work in the morning on the social Web – before you even check your email. Then spend 5 minutes at the end of your lunch break and 5 minutes before you go home. If you find tools that you enjoy using, then you might even learn that spending time on the social Web is fun.
Q. What’s the worst thing a business can do on the social Web?
Social media marketing is not about selling. Social media marketing is a long-term marketing strategy. It’s about building relationships, not sales. If you go into thinking you’re going to boost sales overnight, you need to change your way of thinking immediately. With that in mind, you should avoid self-promoting on the social Web. If you must self-promote, follow the 80-20 rule of marketing: 80% of your time not self-promoting, 20% of less self-promoting. No one wants to hang out with you in person or on the social Web if all you ever do is talk about yourself or try to sell your products.
Q. What makes your book different from all the other social media experts?
First, I’d argue that there is no such things as a social media expert. The social Web changes faster than anyone can possibly keep up. In fact, if you asked 10 social media marketing professionals to put together marketing plans for your business, you’d very likely get 10 different plans. But guess what? That’s absolutely fine! Think of it this way – it took a long time for marketers to figure out how to advertise on television. No one knew how best to motivate consumers to action through social media marketing. There is no recipe for success yet, and it’s unlikely one will materialize anytime soon.
My own social media marketing practices are based on my deep education and experience working in the marketing field and direct marketing programs for some of the largest businesses in the world. A lot of social media marketers these days don’t have a solid marketing background to draw from. While they may have gotten lucky and found success with specific social Web tools, they don’t necessarily understand the why’s and the theories to duplicate that success for other businesses. In other words, one size does not fit all and without a fundamental knowledge of business and marketing to draw from, it’s hard to claim expertise in a form of practical marketing.
Furthermore, my approach to social media marketing is a bit different in that I understand that each business’ needs are unique. Getting 10,000 followers on Twitter might not be the best goal for every business. You have to analyze and understand a business’ goals and needs before you can implement a social media marketing plan. In other words, blanket strategies are ineffective. There’s more to social media marketing success than number of followers.