Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Is social media still relevant for marketing small business?

Before I get started, just wanted to let you know this is a serious subject about a serious small business marketing issue.  That being said, there's no reason you can't have some fun with it, so I'm starting with this picture.  There is room for humor in business.

I had the privilege of interviewing Amanda Quraishi, owner of Dark Matter Digital Media, on my radio show yesterday.  The subject was social media.  My relationship with Q (yes, she goes by "Q") started on social media - Twitter, to be exact, back when Twitter was new and, for me, a fun place to be.  It didn't take long before we met in real life and have been friends ever since.  Having someone as amazing at doing social media strategy as Q as a friend has the added benefit of being able to talk about it on rational (semi) terms in a way that actually helps sort out the wheat from the chaff in the ever-increasingly complex world of small business marketing and social media.

"Social media" started long before Twitter, Facebook and even MySpace.  In the early days of the internet, this type of communication was mainly handled on message boards and chat rooms, where the audience was smaller and limited to those with access to AOL, Juno, Prodigy and other internet gateways; my first experience on a board was actually on Prodigy back in 1990, when I belonged to several boards peopled by other computer geeks, all talking about the latest motherboard configurations, whether IDE boards were here to stay (they weren't) and the latest hard drive models from Seagate.

Fast forward 26 years and today, those small chat boards have evolved into the social media of today.  But the question keeps coming up - "Is social media still relevant for marketing a small business?"  I'm not quite sure why.  No one questions whether creating ads for the Super Bowl is relevant, this many years after the first Clydesdale trotted out the barn.  No one is demolishing billboards from the side of the road.  And while newspapers and the Yellow Pages have changed dramatically over the last 20 years, they're still there and still a logical choice for marketing, depending on your area of business.

In talking about it yesterday with Q, we addressed the current state of social media - not only how it's changed over the years, but also how to best position your company on the correct social media platforms for maximum effectiveness.

It's very easy to look at social media as an all-in or all-out proposition.  Too many companies have a presence on EVERY social media platform, whether it's appropriate for their company or not.  It's very easy to do that, especially if social media is being done in house, because those handling the task are typically those used to older forms of marketing with little understanding of each platform OR they're newer to their company with little understanding of the product or ideal customer the company's trying to reach.

Q, a social media strategy rockstar, had lots to say on the subject but her underlying words of wisdom were:

  • Know your company
  • Know your audience
  • Know your product and mission
  • Know the social media outlets available and focus on those most compatible with the first four items
For instance, if you have a physical product or brand, visual media would be best - YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat.  If you're working in the business-to-business realm, LinkedIn would be better, along with maybe Twitter.  A service that doesn't have any visual presence - like computer repair, consulting or accounting - would not do well on the visual media; can you imagine what kinds of posts an accountant would put on Instagram?  That's just a waste of time.

The bottom line on marketing your small business, whether you're using social media or other media, is to know where your time and money are best spent, focus on two or three and knock it out of the park.  And as with any marketing strategy, your return on investment is huge when you hire a true digital marketing expert, even if you just have an hour of their time.  Because they're most up to date on what's out there and how it works, someone like Q will be able to give you a game plan that'll help you make the most of your marketing dollars.

Want to know more?  Listen to our conversation over on BlogTalkRadio and check out Q on her personal website and her Dark Matter Digital site.  There is so much more we can all learn from her by just paying attention.  Oh - and follow her on Twitter at @ImTheQ ... you don't want to miss anything.