Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

#6: Take a Quick Break – 10 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Social Media to Save Time

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

In this latest installment of 10 Ways Small Business can use Social Media to Save Time, we will discuss how social media can help stimulate your small business.

Fatigue in the office is nothing new, and learning how Social Media can help alleviate that fatigue can make your employees and you more efficient.

Whether you’re working in an office or at home, taking regular breaks is essential for your mental and physical well-being. In a traditional office, you could head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee or down to the proverbial water cooler. But when you work for yourself, taking a break to join humanity is a little more involved. You can get in the car and drive to Starbucks for a quick latte, but that takes time and money.

You could call up a friend to check in, but who really has the time?  Instead, here are a handful of things you can do to take a much-needed mental break, all from the comfort of your own home, all via your Social Media networks:

  • Head over to Facebook and see whose birthday it is using the notification feature. Then leave them a birthday message on their wall (5 minutes).
  • Catch up on your favorite non-work-related blogs. Or read a few of the industry movers and shakers and leave them a thoughtful comment, linking back to your own site (10 minutes).
  • Post a question of the day (hashtag #QOTD) related to your niche, but in a “just for fun” sense. For instance, “What’s the last ___ you purchased for your ___?” This is a fun way to engage your Twitter followers, as well as gather some informal intelligence (5 minutes).
  • Yes, go ahead and succumb to playing games like Farmville or Plants vs. Zombies, just log in and play for a limited time. Set an egg timer next to your computer and stop when time’s up (15 minutes).
  • Check out the latest videos in your niche (did you know you can subscribe to other video creators’ YouTube channels?). Leave a comment or even create your own video response (15 minutes).
  • Log into LinkedIn and update your status. Then check in on some of your groups and see what the hot topics are. Offer your expertise if appropriate (15 minutes).
  • Do the same with Facebook. Visit some of the groups you belong to and leave questions, comments or other posts on the wall; make sure to leave links where possible (15 minutes)
  • See who’s commented on your blog lately and visit their websites, leaving comments and thanking them for visiting you. Reciprocity goes a long way to establishing strong relationships (10 minutes).
  • Go to the iTunes store and see who hosts the leading podcasts in your industry. Visit their blogs and start establishing a relationship with these movers and shakers (5 minutes).

Any one of these suggestions takes less time than a trip to the local Starbucks counter – or a trip to the water cooler, for that matter! Use your break time wisely and you’ll receive the double benefits of refreshment and audience engagement.

In our next installment of our series 10 Ways Small Business can use Social Media to Save Time, learn how social media can broaden the scope of your company and help share important information with your customers.

#5 Finding Resources – 10 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Social Media to Save Time

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

In this next installment of the 10 Ways Small Business can use Social Media to Save Time, readers will learn how Social Media can be used to find essential resources for your company.

If you’re in search of a great printer, you may just want to skip Elance and go directly to Twitter? Finding recommended vendors and freelancers for your business can be as easy as asking the hundreds of folks in your social media network who they recommend. Here’s a breakdown of ways to find trusted contractors, by social media outlet:

    1. 1. LinkedIn. One of the most powerful elements of LinkedIn is the “recommendations” feature. You can write, read, and request recommendations from others in your network. It may take a little legwork, but you can easily use this feature to find a great copywriter, and read what others have to say about him or her. Think of it as a Yelp for people.

 

    1. 2. Twitter. While you’re missing out on the depth of information available on LinkedIn, you can get instantaneous responses from other users. For instance, tweet “Looking for a great online bookkeeper” and you will get dozens of responses within minutes. Give more weight to those that come from inside your network, though, as often a request for referrals will generate automated responses from spammers as well.

 

    1. 3. Facebook. You can post requests for referrals, just like on Twitter, and you can also search for people with those keywords in their profiles. Beware, though; just because someone is listed as “Penelope Bookkeeper” doesn’t mean they’re an expert. You could also post your request in groups that are associated with the topic (post a request for a logo designer on a graphic artists’ Facebook group wall, for example).

 

    1. 4. YouTube. It might seem a little strange to put out a call for resources via video, but why not? Especially if you have a significant following, you could get a tremendous response. Added benefit: If the project you have in mind has a visual aspect, you can demonstrate it right on the video (think office organization, website overhaul, kitchenette remodel).

 

Remember through, even if 14 people recommend the same marketing guru, make sure to do your due diligence. Get a written quote and scope of work, ask for a list of projects completed, and confirm that the person will be doing your project personally, not outsourcing to someone else. With these tips in mind, you should be able to find great resources at the click of a mouse.

In the next installment of the 10 Ways Small Business can use Social Media to Save Time series, readers will learn how social media can stimulate your employees and yourself so that your small business can run effectively.

#4 See What People Are Talking About – 10 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Social Media to Save Time

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

In this installment of our series “10 Ways Small Business Can Use Social Media to Save Time,” readers will learn how Social Media can be used as a way to evaluate trends in your target market.

Large corporations spend millions of dollars prowling the streets, seeing what the trends in fashion, music, and culture are. They rely on feedback from companies like Gallup, the Nielsen Ratings, and American Consumer Opinion to see what’s hot and what’s not. As a small business, you don’t have the same level of resources. But that’s okay – you can get your own “feet on the street” feedback quickly and easily using your Social Media Networks. Here are some of the tools you can use to see what’s hot right now:

Twitter Trends. Go to http://search.twitter.com/. Right below the search box you’ll see a list of trending topics. If there’s a topic you want to track, you can click on the name and subscribe to the RSS feed so that you can keep track of a trending topic.

Hashtags. If you want to follow a particular topic (“internet marketing,” “Redsox,” etc.) via Twitter, you can simply follow the hashtag (#) associated with that subject. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified whenever new tweets on that topic are posted.

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. It’s a little more difficult to see what’s trending on Facebook or LinkedIn, but you can see what groups are growing and what topics are hot. Do a search on either site for interesting topics that are relevant to your business. You can also join groups that look interesting and pertinent to your business. You can receive messages directly to your email inbox or opt to log into your account to read. Either way is a great tactic for keeping tabs on what people in your niche are talking about.

Yahoo! and Google Groups. Go to groups.yahoo.com or groups.google.com to view thousands upon thousands of groups for interests as varied as recycling, Rutgers University alums, or Philadelphia Eagles fans. Join the ones appropriate for your interests, browse topics, and see suggestions at http://custom.yahoo.com/bestofyahoogroups/.

YouTube “Most Viewed.” Head over to http://www.youtube.com/videos?feature=mh to see the most viewed videos of the day. You can even see top results by category (Education, Howto & Style, Nonprofits & Activism, News & Politics, Comedy, People & Blogs, etc.) The results may surprise you!

Stumbleupon, Technorati, Alltop. Check out any of these blog aggregators to see what others find interesting, read-worthy, or titillating. You can see hot topics, trending news, and just plain weird stuff. You can also use these sites to research popular blogs in your niche.

As you can see, there is no need to hire a reporter to tell you what’s happening in your target market. You can easily track it all from your computer – no reporter’s notebook required.

In the next post readers will learn how Social Media can help small business owners find essential resources to help keep business growing.

#3: Get Fast Feedback – 10 Ways Small Business Can Use Social Media to Save Time

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Social Media has the potential to better educate you, the small business owner, in your daily decision making process. As a business owner you can receive free input on how people are reacting to your services through Social Media.

Everything online happens at the speed of light. Decisions that used to take weeks or months now take a matter of mere minutes or seconds. There is no time for group consensus nor is there time to “sleep on it” either. But with your Social Media Network, you can still get input from a number of people very quickly. There are literally millions of people on-hand, ready and able to give you feedback in an instant.

For example, want to know if the font on your homepage is too small? Send a tweet with the page link and ask what the general public thinks. Wondering which header graphic better conveys your business? Post them both on your Facebook page and ask for input.

These are some of the benefits of turning to your Social Media Network for advice:

  • You’ll get an interesting cross-section of respondents: friends from high school, curious passers-by, and coworkers.
  • It’s fast. Depending on the size of your network, you could have responses within minutes.
  • It’s free. You don’t have to pay a penny for the input.
  • It’s informal. No need to prepare a five-paragraph overview, a ten-slide PowerPoint presentation, or other background information. Just ask and wait for the input.
  • It’s objective. The people you’re asking have little or no vested interest in the outcome.

Of course, this method is better for some queries than others. There are some drawbacks you need to keep in mind:

  • You have no control over the responses or who they come from. You might receive input from people who aren’t part of your target audience or who offer goofy suggestions.
  • By soliciting opinions, you can make people feel like they have ownership in the process. In other words, if you don’t take their advice, they might feel slighted.
  • You make some of the inner workings of your business public.

As a result, soliciting fast feedback via Social Media Networks is best for the following situations:

  1. When the decision is relatively minor. You don’t want to ask the general public what you should do about selling your business, or responding to a lawsuit, or customer service issues.
  2. When the results will be public anyway. If the decision is behind-the-scenes, keep it there. Our examples above – font size, header graphics – are public anyway. Don’t post private information or anything that might breach confidence.
  3. When you need a variety of opinions from different people. If you need feedback from a certain segment, you’re better off emailing them directly rather than putting out a public call for feedback.

Your Social Media Networks can serve as your own personal focus groups. Asking their opinion can also make them feel closer to your business and part of the process – both good things!

In our next installment we will discuss how you can learn valuable information about your customers through Social Media.

#2 Get Answers to Your Burning Questions – 10 Ways Small Business Can Use Social Media to Save Time

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

This is the second installment in our series called “10 Ways Small Business Can Use Social Media to Save Time.” In this issue we will explain how Social Media can be used to answer your customers’ questions and ultimately further educate them about your services.

It used to be that all answers to your questions could be found on Google. Then, when Google became overrun with junk sites and advertisements, Wikipedia became the guru of choice. But even Wikipedia won’t give you the answer to every question you have. Sometimes the information is too arcane, or sometimes you don’t want the facts; rather, you want an opinion. So what better place to turn to than Social Media?

Social Media is great for answering any of the following types of questions:

1. Opinions. Heading to New York and want to know where to find authentic New York pizza? Wikipedia won’t help you and Google is full of sponsored ads. So instead of doing a fruitless search, post a query on your Facebook page, and within hours your friends and followers will have chimed in with a variety of suggestions, depending on your appetite, allergies, and budget.

When you want an opinion or suggestion, ask your Social Media Network. They tend to enjoy giving help and assistance, and the resulting information may be more appropriate to your circumstance than a review written by a nameless, faceless entity.

2. New Technology Questions. Your brand-new video camera won’t boot up after the last charge. You could spend an hour or two on the manufacturer’s website, searching the FAQ pages for an answer. You could Google the problem, but all the answers you find are for the previous model. So you send out a plea for help from the “Tweetiverse,” and within minutes you have a handful of suggestions, as well as sites to go to for expert help.

Google often doesn’t help much with tech questions because there either aren’t enough answers out there to make it to the first page of the search results, or the resulting pages are all scams, junk sites, or sponsored posts for services that will fix your camera for a fee. That’s why you can often save time by asking your Social Network first.

3. References and Referrals. Looking for a great handyman in Cherry Hill can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can go through the Yellow Pages or check online, but are any of these guys any good? To know for sure you need a personal reference or referral, and that’s where your social media network can really help out. Post a Facebook query or tweet it out there, and you’ll get answers that will steer you in the right direction.

We often think of Social Media as a way to just hang out with our friends and colleagues, but it is actually one of the greatest examples of the wisdom of crowds. Take advantage of it, and save time, too.

In the next post we will discuss how a small business can use Social Media to receive fast feedback from customers.