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SCORE ExpertAnswers
May 2011

Social Media for Small Business

Robbin Block: Owner, Blockbeta Marketing

Expert Advice to Grow Your Business

Robbin Block has been evangelizing the benefits of marketing strategy for over 25 years to companies of all sizes and to thousands of readers via her book, Social Persuasion: Making Sense of Social Media for Small Business.   

Expert Tips from Robbin: Beyond Social Media

Robbin Block

Q: What are some critical considerations for incorporating social media into a business/marketing plan?  


A:
Social media is anything but "plug-and-play" - it requires careful consideration of your business and audience needs:

  • Understand where social media fits in the promotional mix.  
  • Know in advance how the medium works. For example, young people use Facebook differently than their parents and grandparents.  
  • Understand how social media affects other aspects of online marketing. For example, there's a growing connection between search engines and social media.

Q: Is there also a risk of concentrating solely on the leading social media channels?

A: Yes, too many people limit themselves to what's been called the "Royal 3" of social media - Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. There are social opportunities at sites that serve specific industries, geographic areas, and those with common interests where you can connect with your audience.

Q: What are some keys to continually keeping your social media presence fresh and attractive to new customers?

A: Provide relevant and useful information presented in a creative, compelling, and emotional way. You want to create an impression that will get people to remember you, and maybe share it with others. The viral nature of social media is what really makes it so effective.

Q: What emerging social media marketing trends are you keeping a close eye on?

A: I'm really watching consumer behavior as the medium evolves. There's already talk of "Facebook fatigue," where all these snippets of information lose their novelty. I'm also keeping an eye on its integration with mobile - particularly with social shopping - and search engine optimization.

Q: Is some kind of social media presence a must for every small business today?

A: There are no absolutes in marketing. The degree to which you use social media depends on all these factors we've talked about. You need to align your strategy with them. If your customers are somewhere else, that's where you need to be.

Q: How often should you review a small business marketing plan, particularly its social media elements, and what key metrics should you look at?

A: You should look at the overall plan when you're making major changes, such as changing your business model, going after a new market, or if there are changes in the marketplace affecting your business.

For the social component, look at it as opportunities change - the emergence of new tools or shifts in consumer behavior. Key metrics include what you'd find in Web analytics, social site tracking data, and social media monitoring tools.

Q: Why should entrepreneurs work with a SCORE small business mentor to develop and monitor their marketing plans?

A: Marketing needs to be flexible, because the environment within which a business operates is always changing. And the business itself is evolving as new opportunities or threats come to light. A SCORE mentor can help filter the information and focus the entrepreneur on what's important.

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