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The following post is a guest post from Carlo Pandian an Italian expat and social media enthusiast. He writes tutorials on invoicing software by Intuit and has previously published for several Australian business sites from Dynamic Business to First5000!
Being the owner of an SME means being busy. With the nuts and bolts of a business to run, it can often be incredibly hard to manage your time effectively. Marketing and promotion are possibly the most important aspects of your business; if no one knows you exist, then no one’s going to come knocking on your door.
But many SME owners believe that developing a marketing strategy takes weeks or even months to get off the ground and even longer to implement. However, you can set the ball rolling using just 15 minutes a day of your valuable time. Here are a few suggestions as to how you could best spend that quarter of an hour.
The key to the successful use of social media as a tool is to approach it pro-actively. Start approaching it from a different mindset – as a task-orientated exercise rather than a slightly chaotic and random wander around the Internet.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the three big social media platforms that can work most effectively as business tools. You can easily spend 15 minutes a day sending out Tweets and status updates, but the key is to send the right messages. So your actionable tasks are:
A word of caution here – don’t try to grow your networks too quickly. Friending hundreds of people in a random nature won’t achieve anything except to clog up your timelines with pointless and irrelevant inclusions. As you would in real life, choose your ‘virtual’ friends wisely!
Social networks give you the opportunity to build a relationship with potential customers outside of the bracket of business. It’s essentially a way of advertising without advertising; people respond more favorably if they feel they’re not being sold to. So make sure you:
Your website is the portal through which inquiries can become sales. However, it’s rather like keeping a stunning car in a garage; unless you give people a reason to go there, no one will see it. So to get people to link to your website (or metaphorically peep inside your virtual garage to look at that gorgeous, vintage E-Type), create some killer content to act as a roadmap.
In 15 minutes you should be able to write a short and informative blog entry, upload it and link it back through your social networking sites. The blog post doesn’t have to be long, but it does have to be engaging and generate a buzz. It might be a news bulletin about your industry, details of a special offer or a piece of industry-related comment. If it’s written well, it will bring people to your door, whilst establishing you as an authority in your field.
If you’re suffering from ‘blank page syndrome’ and can’t think of anything to write, take your inspiration from similar sites around the web. So before you start writing:
A word of warning – never, ever ‘rip’ or copy other people’s content. Not only will your readers be on to you in a heartbeat, but so will Google and you’ll end up getting penalized in the SERPS.
Get creative. Social media updates don’t have to be banal comments, fuzzy iPhone pictures of you at the back of an auditorium or blatant ‘come and buy me’ adverts. There are other ways to grab your followers’ attention, including:
Whatever you do, don’t be boring! People in the social media arena have very little patience with dull or uninspiring copy, so fire their imaginations by using yours.
If you feel you don’t have the time to devote to social networking, then maybe it’s worth shelling out for a creative app that people can use on their social pages. For example, there is an app called ‘Pillow Fight’ in which people can send virtual bashings to their friends. If you can develop a simple app that carries your brand name with it, you can let it do the work for you.
However, you could outsource your Facebook and Twitter pages to be managed by someone else and use those 15 minutes to gain updates and instruct the account managers on what content you want put out next.
Although it’ll take longer than 15 minutes, making short films for YouTube is a good way to reach another branch of potential customers. The films might be a guide to your product or a demonstration of how it works. You can use it for product introductions and launches, reviews and video blogs. If a picture is worth a thousand words, think how many a moving picture adds up to!
But make sure it’s good quality, as a fuzzy, out of focus or poorly shot video will do more harm than good to your reputation. So before you get ready for your close up:
Be prepared to be generous. Those 15 minutes could be your route to business success, so if someone is generous enough to share your post, say thank you by reciprocating! If you read an interesting blog by someone else, tell them you enjoyed it and engage with them. If you think it’s genuinely good, then share it with your followers. You’ll find that the recipient of your online generosity will do the same much more willingly as a result.
By that we don’t mean get involved in the ‘Occupy’ movement, but be aware of the 1% rule as it applies to social networking. This rule, first coined by bloggers Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, states that the number of people who create content on the Internet represents approximately 1% (or less) of the people actually viewing that content.
So for every person who posts on a forum or link, there are 99 others who are viewing but not posting. By understanding that rule, you’ll also see just how important it is to create content that encourages some of those 99 non-active people to respond to you, either by clicking on a link, commenting on your blog or responding to your CTA.
Now you have an idea of just how much you can pack into those 15 minutes, and what kind of reaction the right social networking content can provoke, it’s obvious that spending that time wisely could be the best business investment you’ve made all day. So don’t feel guilty about online social networking – you’re actually doing your business a favour, so grab a coffee and get Tweeting!
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