Small businesses have their own unique challenges. Running Bob’s Accounting Service isn’t quite the same as being in charge of Deloitte & Touche.
It may not be even the slightest bit easier, but it definitely brings a different set of issues to deal with. When it comes to social media, small firms have the advantage in more personal interactions and the ability to make quick and flexible responses. Despite their lumbering gait, the behemoths of enterprise that use social media also have areas where they lead the way. You can study their approach and come away with a set of guidelines that will benefit your firm, whatever its size.
Reverse engineer your means from your ends. Using social media is nothing more than an exercise in futility (or fun, depending on your perspective) unless you’ve got a specific goal driving each of your interactions on it. To make it useful, you must choose one goal and let it guide every tweet, every comment and every article you post. Generally speaking, you can choose from expanding your brand’s reach, enhancing your relationship with clients or boosting sales. In a perfectly tuned social media operation, a small firm can hit more than one of these targets at once, whereas a big business has to stick to only one. Even so, the principle of tailoring social media behavior to further a specific outcome holds for businesses of all sizes.
Remember the content in content marketing. Without the content, content marketing is a moot concept. The old truism “publish or perish” is even more applicable in content marketing than in its traditional setting of academia. You’ve got to publish something all the time – newsletters, blog posts, videos, etc. – or your social media activities become all style without any substance. The big businesses with the most successful social media marketing programs are constantly adding high-quality content that is interesting to read and links back to the firms’ websites and social media pages.
Play to your audience. Painted with a broad brush, any business category is virtually devoid of interest. Information that relates to individuals, their needs and their personal experiences is what brings it home and makes it compelling. To rivet your audiences – or even hold their attention for a moment – the trick is to share facts and opinions in a way that they can relate to personally. Accounting: snore. New tax credits I can use this year: absolutely fascinating.
It’s not the tools – it’s how you use them. Getting hung up on choosing the right social media platform and the spiffiest gadgets is for the most part a wasted effort. The power of your communications comes from the way you engage your viewers and encourage them to participate in conversation with you. Worried because Pinterest is all the rage and you’re not on it? Don’t be. Just make sure that where your firm does have a presence, you’re connecting on a level that invites feedback and offers information of value.
Outsource to your audience. The most effective way to create waves with social media is to share a story that gets other people talking, even when you’re not right there driving the conversation. If you can generate interest that your readers carry to other people, you’ve done something that will benefit your firm in the long run much more than simply forcing interactions in the here and now. That means that you’ll be relinquishing some control of the message, but if your firm is solid then you can afford to let your messages take wings and set out on their own.
It seems like an easier task to handle client work and social media marketing when you’ve got scores of departments to specialize in each aspect of the firm’s needs. That’s true in some ways, but as a small firm you have the advantage in that what you share and the way you share it come from you, not a message-crafting team that’s removed from the heart of the business. Just focus on being the best firm you can be and sharing sincerely what’s of interest to you and your clients. The commitment and the value will both come through, and you’ll get what you need from social media.