This article is a summary of presentation was called Building your Business by Building Relationships with Social Media giving an overview of what social media is and how to use it successfully by small business owners. All the orange text in the article are links that you can click on for more information.

Social Media and Small Businesses ~ the perfect mix!

What is social media?

In general, social media is online communication using Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media platforms.

Why should you, as a small business owner, care about social media? This is where your customers are talking and you want to engage them and listen to them.

Social media is all about influencing people one-on-one; and achieving person-to-person communication that influences awareness, acceptance and behavior. Powerful tactics and tools of communication, social networks can and should play an important role in every brand-building, maintenance and protection strategy.

I recently read an article called 6 Reasons that Dry Cleaners Should Ignore Social Media and I disagreed with every point that the author made which led me to write 12 Most Spotless Reasons Dry Cleaners Should be on Social Media which is the foundation for this presentation today.

What is traditional media?

Print advertisements, coupons, radio spots and any of the other things that you have been doing for years.

Should you do both? Absolutely!

Integrated media is combining the new media with traditional media. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Traditional media still has its place and value in your marketing plan.

BUT you should take advantage of social media as well and put it into the mix to reach your customers where they are talking.

Word of mouth marketing is very strong and information travels very quickly through social media. Here is an example of how word of mouth marketing works for Facebook.

Susie moves to a new town. She friends her new neighbors on Facebook. While she is updating her own status, she sees that her neighbor just liked a coupon for a local dry cleaner. Susie doesn’t have a dry cleaner yet but she checks out the Facebook page and likes it so she starts seeing coupons in her Facebook timeline from the cleaner. She asks her neighbor about their pick up and delivery service and gets a rave review. Susie uses the Facebook coupon and sets up her first delivery pick up from the dry cleaners Facebook tab. Sound easy? While reaching their current customers, the dry cleaner also reaches all their customers friends as well.

Build relationships

Let your customers know who you are and what your company does in your community. Tiffany Couture Cleaners does a wonderful job on their Facebook page and Twitter account letting their customers know what they are doing and connecting their staff with their customers. On Halloween the staff at Tiffany’s dressed up and they shared the photo on their Facebook page. What a great way to show who they are, that Tiffany’s is a fun place to work and featuring their staff who will be interacting with their customers is a great way to build the relationships with their clients.

Tiffany's Couture Cleaners

Have you thought about short videos? How can they help you reach your customers?

8 Ways to Use 15 Second Videos to Connect With Your Customers

#1 Share your events

#2 Highlight a company milestone

#3 Share a promotion or weekly special

Customer service

Many businesses are afraid to get involved in social media because someone might write a negative comment on Facebook or tweet that they’re shirts where ruined. This is why you SHOULD be involved so you can respond to customers.

This is an example of a Facebook post by Magnolia Bakery in New York City. Magnolia Bakery started as a small neighborhood bakery with a few employees and now people wait in lines around the corner to get their delicious cupcakes. Magnolia has expanded to social media and here is a post they made on Facebook which received 482 likes, 30 comments and 47 shares! Magnolia has 73,573 Facebook fans, a perfect example of a small business that has grown with a great product, word of mouth and continuing their growth with social media and the internet. You can now order their fantastic baked products and have them delivered to your home.

Facebook post

Social media is a conversation.

It has been said many times that social media is like a cocktail party. There is great potential to promote your products within social media but it must be done the right way. You wouldn’t enter a room and immediately start talking about yourself and pushing your products. You can’t enter the online world and expect everyone to be immediately fascinated with your message.

How to Promote Yourself Without Being a Jerk

Social Listening

Because you are in a conversation on social media, it is important to be listening more than you are talking. There are easy ways to make sure that you hear what your customers, followers and community are saying. Set up alerts with Social mention or Google Alerts for your company name or important keywords such as dry cleaner or the name of your town to get up to the minute news from the web. This can be used to keep you up-to-date and also feed your content to share on your Facebook page or other platform.

Social Media Monitoring 101 How to Get Started


How to Simplify Your Social Monitoring

Are you mobile ready?

What is mobile marketing? SMS or texts, QR codes, mobile responsive websites that people see via their smartphones.

Three Mobile Marketing Questions Your Business Needs to Answer

Mobile Marketing: How to Reach Your Buyers Wherever They Are

Invite customers to tweet photos of their favorite outfit or holiday table to enter a contest. Many small businesses that have been successful with mobile marketing started out studying how big companies were using it, and then borrowed the tactics that worked for them.

3 Steps to Determine if Social Local Mobile is Right for your Business or SoLoMo. It’s the convergence of social, location-based and mobile marketing into a new category of tools that many businesses are using to acquire new customers. Examples of SoLoMo: Yelp, Facebook Places and Foursquare.

How can you get started?

Keep in mind that starting in social media is like getting a puppy. It’s cute and cuddly but it also needs to be fed, taken for walks and loved.

golden retreiver

Start a Facebook Page for your business.

Plan on updating it on a regular basis. Create a calendar of events, holidays and specials that you will be running so you can have things ready to go.

12 Most Effective Ways to Market Your Business with Facebook

Facebook 101 for Business: Your Complete Guide

Facebook Engagement Tips to Power Up Your Page

Start a Twitter Account for your business

  1. Set up your profile with professional design work to match your current branding.
  2. Create an interesting profile with links to your website.
  3. Use a few keywords that you would like people to find you with such as dry cleaner and your town. Work it into the text “Boston’s #1 Dry Cleaner” or Stop by Hartford’s #1 Dry Cleaner” so that people will find you when they search.

Plan on tweeting at least once a day optimally 4 times per day if you have good content to share. Check Twitter to make sure you’re talking with your followers and tweeting back to those to mention you.

In the beginning, it is good to set up notifications on Twitter and Facebook so you know when someone mentions you or comments on your page.

How to start a Company Twitter Account

Twitter Tips for Newbies

5 Strategies for Using Twitter Effectively

Tips for a Fabulous Social Media Profile

How to Build Customer Relationships with Twitter

I hope that this information helps give some background on what social media is and why you should be involved in it as a small business owner. Please let me know if you have any questions or stories about how it’s helped your business.

Featured image courtesy of ►CubaGallery via Creative Commons.