Tuesday January 22nd I will be speaking on the topic of Social Media Strategy for ARCSI the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International. Small Business Social Media Strategy is a pretty hot topic right now, and many small businesses are struggling to find the time, and return on investment that engaging in social media promises. I will try to shed some light on the subject and keep it interesting at the same time. You can watch the live broadcast at I will be using the “newish” Google + hangout tool to do so. Sharing in real time, while simultaneously showing the functions of what I consider to be one of the most useful, yet underused social networks. If you are reading this after the fact, the entire hangout will be uploaded automatically to the Better Life Maids YouTube channel for you to watch at any time.

The first key to any small business seeking to grow their presence on social media is to be “Likeable”. Dave Kerpen talks about this concept in his aptly named book Likeable Social Media. The concept is really pretty simple, have something interesting to say, and say it in a way that is fresh and fun. The truth is, that not all businesses are cut out to be on social media. If your business is terrible in the real world, it will be terrible on social media and perhaps social media will amplify just how bad you really are. You can see a post I did about Boner’s Barbecue and their epic social media fail of 2012. If however you have a great brand, with a great message to share, than social media will help you amplify that message. Dare to be original, create a unique social voice for your business, and tell your story.

There are currently an enormous amount of social media channels in use, and even traditional websites are starting to integrate social media features. The most popular and relevant social media sites for a small business owner to be aware of are Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Linkedin, and YouTube. Google + is probably the best social network out there right now, but it just doesn’t have a huge mainstream adoption yet. However techies and others at the “bleeding edge” of technology are there, so keep your audience in mind when deciding to add it to your main mix. Some of the up and comers are Pinterest which is currently the fastest growing and has some real appeal for visual marketing, Instagram which is a photo sharing service with all the catch filters, and don’t forget review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List which I include because of their community based approach to sharing information with peers. If you have a product based business, sites like Amazon are even social by the nature of their reviews and deep peer trust. In addition to these main sites, there are literally thousands of niche communities, and many of them may share some advantage for your business that is worth exploring.

To decide where to focus your energy with all these choices of social networks is a daunting task at first glance. However, once you identify who your audience is, the choice of appropriate networks to focus the most of your energy on will become more clear. For Better Life Maids, Facebook is our primary social networking site. We chose Facebook due to its very large audience, but also due to its demographics, and the way people use it. If your business markets primarily to other businesses, you may still use Facebook in your marketing mix, but Linkedin might be more useful to target and network with decision makers you want to reach.

Start researching what other brands are doing on social networks. You want to be original, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at what others are doing for best practices and inspiration. Hubspot produces some great e-books on getting started on various social networks including various Facebook guides. Obviously Hubspot wants to draw you into a conversation and perhaps influence you to purchase their blogging software platform. If nothing else look at what they are doing and learn. I think Hubspot is one of the best examples of B2C marketing available. Every post they do has a point and it follows a pattern: topic, content, keywords, target market, and offer. By following a similar pattern with your own small business social media strategy, you will craft useful and targeted posts and content that is engaging and help your brand to become “Likeable”.

By Matt Ricketts

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