By Kristen Ruby
Are you contemplating starting a small business? Or perhaps you have a business that you are hoping to grow? If you haven’t gotten into the swing of using social media, you are foregoing tremendous power. Social media: Blurs the lines between advertising, branding, public relations and marketing.Functions as a “sharing” tool. At the heart of new media is publishing and content creation. A steady flow of content is released through the various networks to reach as wide an audience as possible. On Twitter, this is referred to as a tweet; on Facebook, it is a “note;” and on a blog, it is simply a post. The tone of the message on each of the social networks should be molded accordingly. For example, your fans on your company’s fan page may differ from your Facebook followers–always create separate messages to address each of your audiences in the tone that is most commonly used on that network.
Also, be sure to utilize LinkedIN as your virtual “rolodex” and socialize your business. Every time you meet someone at a business function, connect with them on LinkedIN and then follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you secure a minimum of five recommendations from colleagues and clients you have done stellar work for! The next time someone tells you how great you have done on a project, ask them to put it in writing on LinkedIN. This will help your “virtual referral” cycle kick start!
At Ruby Media, we help clients gain new business by creating a social media presence. For example, to help with the launch of this publisher’s new title, Single&smart Magazine, we created Facebook invites and fan page and used Twitter to tweet press releases. We created YouTube videos from the Single&smart launch party in July. We published compelling photo albums and we tweeted relevant dating articles that our followers would find interesting. We also created a “Westchester’s Hottest Bachelor” campaign to increase visibility for the magazine and draw in a wider male demographic. All submissions have come via social media referrals for the contest!
Social Media helped jumpstart the launch of Klobe Card, a new card which diners can use to receive 50% off of their food bills at top restaurants. Through tweeting, we have essentially “warmed” the sales cycle by interacting with restaurants and building relationships with them before making initial contact. By heavily promoting other restaurants for Restaurant Week, we have received a great deal of engagement with the brand itself.
Regardless of what your industry is, do not be afraid to use social media! My most recent client, Happyheads, is a lice removal product. We tweet about lice tips, post lice removal videos and are starting a lice blog. You would be amazed at how many Mom bloggers are blogging about organic removal tips! Regardless of your product, there is a social media niche for you.
Common Social Media Mistakes
A lot of businesses are utilizing Foursquare, a geolocating service where you “check in” your current geographic location vs gps app. It enables other members in your network to know exactly where you are located. Do not check in on foursquare when meeting with a prospect– only alert your “followers” and “fans” of your location after the deal is closed! Do not post pictures of meetings with prospects, free lunches they give you or anything else until the contract is signed! This will alert all of your competitors that follow you on your social networks that company X has an RFP out with other agencies. Avoid over sharing–be discreet with what you post–and if you find this too hard to manage then create two separate accounts–one for business, and one for personal.
Finally, please realize: Social media is not the marketing strategy; but it is the way through which the marketing message is shared. Clients come to us for marketing assistance, and we utilize social tools to promote the message, the cause, and the business accordingly.
Kris Ruby is the President & Founder of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations, Personal Branding and Social Media Agency. Kris also leads national speaking engagements on branding for Microsoft and the ABA has been featured on MSN Money, AOL Small Business, ABC Good Morning CT, NBC and News 12. Kris is a columnist for Forbes Woman, Inside Chappaqua, JDATE and Single& smart magazine and was the youngest ever to be chosen for the Business Council of Westchesters “40 Under 40” Rising Stars.