The 7-step guide to using social media for small business owners

Social media can be an immensely useful tool for small businesses. Here’s our 7-step guide to getting the most from social media for your business.

This guest post is by Phoebe Netto, the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a marketing and public relations consultancy for small-to-medium businesses. Phoebe has a background in public relations and marketing, and takes these skills that are often reserved for big businesses with big budgets, and uses them to help good small businesses grow and meet their objectives. Visit www.goodbusiness.net.au (be sure to sign up for the Good Business Consulting newsletter and check out the blog while you’re there) or follow her on Twitter at @Phoebe_Netto

In marketing yourself and your business, you should aim to be at every watering hole where your ideal clients congregate. After all, if people do not know that you exist and what you can offer, how else will they become clients? For many of you, one of those waterholes will include social media.

Social media opens up a whole new audience to you, provides a means to make new connections, and gives you the tools to introduce yourself and your services in a subtle way to your ideal clients.

It allows you to extend the reach of your thought leadership and gives you the opportunity to share examples of your work and testimonials. Social media can also provide you with a constant flow of advice, ideas, and links to resources that are focused on your area of expertise or interest.

Regardless of what social media platform you decide to use, there are universal principles or golden rules that you must adhere to. You will notice that these rules are not much different to society’s rules for social engagement offline.

1.        Do things on purpose

If you are on twitter, know why you are on twitter and let your tweets reflect your purpose. The same rule applies for every social media platform. For example, I help small-to-medium businesses and sole operators grow with marketing and public relations. I need to ensure that the majority of my tweets on twitter are about small business, marketing and public relations. My twitter followers should know what to expect of my twitter content.

One of the mistakes that many small businesses and sole operators make when using social media is that they do not choose the right platform. This results in busy activity rather than productivity. Only focus on social media platforms that are a gathering place for your unique target group.

For example, young pet owners would be more inclined to interact with you on facebook than on LinkedIn. If you are a freelance journalist, twitter would be best as there are countless editors to interact with there and you can share links to examples of your work.

2.        It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason

Always remember that social media is not a foreign land speaking in another language. It is real life with real people, real relationships and real conversations.

This is why many of the same social etiquette principles that we value and operate by in business and in life, also apply to social media.

3.        It is better to give than to receive

In my business there are a couple of principles that lead to successful marketing and public relations. In media relations if you give others (journalists, editors and the publication’s readers) what they want, you will get what you want. For example, if I help a journalist by giving them a great piece of news or a well-written bylined article, I will get what I want which is great coverage for my client.

Similarly, marketing is most successful when it is focused on meeting needs and making life easier and more pleasant for others. When a small business addresses the deepest concerns and desires of both its clients and potential clients, and makes them feel special, they will attract leads and repeat business.

When operating by the following rules, social media can deliver your message to new audiences, provide you with new connections, and act as a platform to share your expertise and thought-leadership:

4.        No yelling in the hallway (or on social media)

Would you ever walk into a room full of strangers and announce, “I can take your business to the next level at half the price”? No? Didn’t think so. So don’t do it on social media.

If you notice that someone on your social media platform asks for a recommendation or complains that they can’t find a good provider of a certain product or service, then sure – feel free to suggest a solution or offer to discuss offline with them. You might even land a nice piece of new business. The point is to be helpful, with brings me to my next point.

5.        Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you

Use social media to share, give value, help others, provide helpful information, collaborate, and create a reason for people to want to know more about you and what you do.

You can give value and at the same time promote your business by sharing links to your blog, provide thought leadership, expertise and helpful advice. This shows that you are passionate about your industry area and gives people a non-confrontational and subtle way to experience your knowledge.

Make sure you also share other people’s blog posts, links to useful website, spread great social media content (such as tweets) from others, and promote other businesses (if worthy of promotion). Remember, it’s not all about you!

6.        You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason

My mother always used to tell me this and she was right (as usual). Social media is not a forum for monologues. Those who do not interact or listen to what others are saying on social media will eventually find themselves very lonely (offline and online).

Worthless tweets and overactive robots cause more harm than good.

Instead interact with others by asking questions, offering advice and responding to other people’s online questions.

7.       All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Show your personality. People do business with people, not companies. So make sure show your personality so people can feel a connection.

Be sincere. You can’t fake relationships – even on social media. Put a smile on the faces of those who follow you.

These principles are also golden rules of social media. Zig Ziglar summarised it by saying, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” When you follow these principles you are well on your way to building important connections with your ideal clients.

Social media is one of the greatest tools available to small-to-medium businesses and sole operators. You can communicate directly with your ideal clients without going through a ‘middle-man’ such as a journalist, advertisement or website.

Overcoming the loneliness of freelancing

There are some great benefits in being self-employed. A whole stack of advantages came out of a recent post on the best things about freelancing and the comments.However, it’s not all plain sailing. One of the benefits of a normal nine-to-five job is the contact with other people. In another recent post I mentioned that loneliness is one of the potential disadvantages of the freelance life.

I’m a fairly gregarious person by nature. While I’m OK with my own company, there are days when I thirst for some human contact. At the moment I’m doing a contract job that puts me in an office with other people for part of the week but I’ve also had to come up with some strategies for the days when I work at home.

One thing I do is schedule a social/work day every couple of weeks. In my home city of Melbourne, there’s a social media breakfast every Friday morning. So, I plan to get to that every couple of weeks or so. As well as breaking the week up a little, it’s an opportunity to meet and network with new people. On that day, I also make a point of setting at least one other meeting with a potential client, interview subject or other business contact.

Email lists are also a great way to expand your network and keep in touch with people. Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn are great places to look for discussions on topics of interest and for contacting new people.

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are excellent as well although you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of self-discipline so that you don’t waste time on them.

Finally, I use the phone a lot. Rather than just emailing or tweeting my contacts I get on the phone a couple of times a day so that I hear a human voice and get a chance to interact more directly.

What do you do to overcome the solitude of working alone? Have you come up with some special tricks to help you through the day? Please share your ideas through the comments.

Five conference coverage tips for freelancers

Covering a conference or trade show can be a daunting task for freelancers. Here are five tips for getting the most value when covering events.

1. Preparation

Make sure you prepare before the event and plan what you’re going to do. Sure, the plan might change as circumstances dictate but having a plan means that you won’t be left doing nothing productive. Schedule your time, read conference material and talk to others that have been to similar events to make sure you’re ready for as many different scenarios as possible.

2. Power

If you’re taking a laptop, make sure it’s fully charged. If you can, have a spare battery as access to power outlets can be tricky at some events. For voice recorders, cameras and similar gadgets, try to buy gear that can either use standard AA or AAA batteries or can be charged over USB. This will reduce the number of chargers you need to carry.

3. Bags

We often buy bags based on their aesthetic value but that’s not a great criteria. Aside from comfort, bring a bag that is generously sized so you can easily carry the stacks of papers you’ll inevitably accumulate. Backpacks a re particularly

good as they won’t hurt your back as much as a shoulder satchel. However, they’re less convenient.

4. Business cards

It might sound silly but make sure you have a stock of business cards and make sure you give them out. We’ll talk about designing a great card in a future post but make sure your cards are current with a phone number, email address, your company name, website and a brief statement that describes you (what’s commonly called an “elevator pitch”). Lots of people hand out business cards so make your memorable. Given that cards can be purchased very cheaply it might even be worth producing event—specific cards.

5. Note-taking

My favourite note-taking application is Evernote. The beauty is that I can take notes on my laptop, iPad or phone and all the devices sync over the cloud. It’s easy and free. I know that I can use a paper and pen (I keep those

in my bag just in case of emergency) but as I need to convert my notes into stories, having them online makes that easy. It also means that my notes can be searched.

Also, with Twitter so common, most conferences have a hashtag – a code that starts with a “#” that can be used to identify tweets that relate to a common topic. Find out the hashtag for the event and then collate all of the related tweets. That will give you a stream of conference notes from lots of people and not just your own point of view.

Also, with Twitter so common, most conferences have a hashtag – a code that starts with a “#” that can be used to identify tweets that relate to a common topic. Find out the hashtag for the event and then collate all of the related tweets. That will give you a stream of conference notes from lots of people and not just your own point of view.

So, what are your tips?

A small business owner’s guide to using social media – Part 2

This post is continued from Part One of A small business owner’s guide to using social media by Phoebe Netto of Good Business Consulting

Just like society has golden rules and universal principles on how to interact with others, social media also has similar rules to operate by.

Social media is one of the greatest tools available to small-to-medium businesses and sole operators. You can communicate directly with your ideal clients without going through a ‘middle-man’ such as a journalist, advertisement or website.

When operating by the following rules, social media can deliver your message to new audiences, provide you with new connections, and act as a platform to share your expertise and thought-leadership:

(For the first three rules of social media use, click here).

4.        No yelling in the hallway (or on social media)

Would you ever walk into a room full of strangers and announce, “I can take your business to the next level at half the price”? No? Didn’t think so. So don’t do it on social media.

If you notice that someone on your social media platform asks for a recommendation or complains that they can’t find a good provider of a certain product or service, then sure – feel free to suggest a solution or offer to discuss offline with them. You might even land a nice piece of new business. The point is to be helpful, with brings me to my next point.

5.        Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you

Use social media to share, give value, help others, provide helpful information, collaborate, and create a reason for people to want to know more about you and what you do.

You can give value and at the same time promote your business by sharing links to your blog, provide thought leadership, expertise and helpful advice. This shows that you are passionate about your industry area and gives people a non-confrontational and subtle way to experience your knowledge.

Make sure you also share other people’s blog posts, links to useful website, spread great social media content (such as tweets) from others, and promote other businesses (if worthy of promotion). Remember, it’s not all about you!

6.        You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason

My mother always used to tell me this and she was right (as usual). Social media is not a forum for monologues. Those who do not interact or listen to what others are saying on social media will eventually find themselves very lonely (offline and online).

Worthless tweets and overactive robots cause more harm than good.

Instead interact with others by asking questions, offering advice and responding to other people’s online questions.

7.       All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Show your personality. People do business with people, not companies. So make sure show your personality so people can feel a connection.

Be sincere. You can’t fake relationships – even on social media. Put a smile on the faces of those who follow you.

When you follow these principles you are well on your way to building important connections with your ideal clients.

Phoebe Netto is the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a marketing and public relations consultancy for small-to-medium businesses.

Phoebe has a background in public relations and marketing, and takes these skills that are often reserved for big businesses with big budgets, and uses them to help good small businesses grow and meet their objectives.

www.goodbusiness.net.au (be sure to sign up for the Good Business Consulting newsletter and check out the blog while you’re there)

@Phoebe_Netto

phoebe@goodbusiness.net.au

A small business owner’s guide to using social media

This is the first part of a two-part series by Phoebe Netto, the Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a marketing and public relations consultancy for small-to-medium businesses.

Phoebe has a background in public relations and marketing, and takes these skills that are often reserved for big businesses with big budgets, and uses them to help good small businesses grow and meet their objectives.

www.goodbusiness.net.au (be sure to sign up for the Good Business Consulting newsletter and check out the blog while you’re there)

@Phoebe_Netto

phoebe@goodbusiness.net.au

In marketing yourself and your business, you should aim to be at every watering hole where your ideal clients congregate. After all, if people do not know that you exist and what you can offer, how else will they become clients? For many of you, one of those waterholes will include social media.

Social media opens up a whole new audience to you, provides a means to make new connections, and gives you the tools to introduce yourself and your services in a subtle way to your ideal clients.

It allows you to extend the reach of your thought leadership and gives you the opportunity to share examples of your work and testimonials. Social media can also provide you with a constant flow of advice, ideas, and links to resources that are focused on your area of expertise or interest.

Regardless of what social media platform you decide to use, there are universal principles or golden rules that you must adhere to. You will notice that these rules are not much different to society’s rules for social engagement offline.

1.        Do things on purpose

If you are on twitter, know why you are on twitter and let your tweets reflect your purpose. The same rule applies for every social media platform. For example, I help small-to-medium businesses and sole operators grow with marketing and public relations. I need to ensure that the majority of my tweets on twitter are about small business, marketing and public relations. My twitter followers should know what to expect of my twitter content.

One of the mistakes that many small businesses and sole operators make when using social media is that they do not choose the right platform. This results in busy activity rather than productivity. Only focus on social media platforms that are a gathering place for your unique target group.

For example, young pet owners would be more inclined to interact with you on facebook than on LinkedIn. If you are a freelance journalist, twitter would be best as there are countless editors to interact with there and you can share links to examples of your work.

2.        It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason

Always remember that social media is not a foreign land speaking in another language. It is real life with real people, real relationships and real conversations.

This is why many of the same social etiquette principles that we value and operate by in business and in life, also apply to social media.

3.        It is better to give than to receive

In my business there are a couple of principles that lead to successful marketing and public relations. In media relations if you give others (journalists, editors and the publication’s readers) what they want, you will get what you want. For example, if I help a journalist by giving them a great piece of news or a well-written bylined article, I will get what I want which is great coverage for my client.

Similarly, marketing is most successful when it is focused on meeting needs and making life easier and more pleasant for others. When a small business addresses the deepest concerns and desires of both its clients and potential clients, and makes them feel special, they will attract leads and repeat business.

These principles are also golden rules of social media. Zig Ziglar summarised it by saying, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Part Two of this post will continue with the four final golden rules of social media use for you and your business. Make sure you drop by on Monday