It’s the end of the year so it’s time to make some predictions for the upcoming year. I think a topic that weighs on the mind of many small business owners is how to best use social media to drive more business.
Let’s see what we can expect more small business owners to do in 2011.
Link Social Media Activity to Business Goals
By creating an inbound marketing plan for 2011, you can define the business impact that you want to achieve with your social media activity. This should go beyond just figuring out what to post on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
Your plan needs to contain topics and timing for reaching your prospective customers at the various stages in their purchasing processes. Clearly define what’s needed for calls to action that will move your social media followers through your sales pipeline and convert more leads to closed business.
The inbound marketing calculator will help you figure out what numbers you need at each step of the way.
Create Valuable Content to Distribute Your Marketing Message
Consumers continue to become more wary of advertising, especially online when most activity is performed to achieve some goal. Your best bet of reaching your target customer is providing them with valuable information when they are online searching for answers to their questions.
Your expertise delivered through your valuable content is your advertising. There is then no reason to tell people you are the best at what you do. You just are the best at what you do.
Involve Customers More in Marketing
Social media makes it easy to turn your happy customers into raving fans. They can add comments to your blog for others to see, they can add comments on your Facebook page, they can tweet about how you helped identify and solve their particular issue.
These tactics go beyond collecting testimonials and reviews from customers. Keep them engaged and make it easy for them to rave about your products and services to their friends.
Participate in Group Buying Programs
Groupon has helped numerous small businesses attract a swarm of new customers by reaching a wide audience with massive daily discounts. Although the economics for a small business are not too favorable (50% discount off regular price plus 50-50 split with Groupon on the daily deal revenue), the model solves the age-old problem of getting customers in the door.
Playing with price is tricky because it de-values your product or service, but for those customers who truly appreciate the value of the deal, you have a chance to delight them and win them as a loyal customer at the regular price.
Make It Easy for Customers to Check-in
2010 saw the rise of Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places as the dominant players in the location based services game. For small businesses, customers want to check-in to your locations to pick up points or badges, get tips, and find deals.
Like reviews, check-ins provide an additional data point for ranking local businesses in search engines. Claiming your business profile on these location based services enables you to provide the most accurate information about your business as well as list special offers.
We’ll be paying attention to how small businesses incorporate social media into their marketing activity in 2011. Please share any social media activities that you see yourself doing more of in the upcoming year.
Have a Happy New Year!
Image by *Sally M*
Free Inbound Marketing Plan Template
As we get ready to go into 2011, it’s important for business owners to make sure they have a solid inbound marketing plan in place.
If you don’t have one already, here is a free template that will help you make sure you have clearly identified and aligned your business objectives and marketing activity.