5 Tips for Social Marketing

Taking advantage of social media on the go

5 tips to make your social media marketing succeed
Social media marketing can really help businesses grow — without requiring a major investment in time or money. Follow these five smart tips for building a social marketing plan from the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winners, and you too can turn your social marketing into a small business success story!

Tip #1: Know your audience, grow your business.
For Nicole Snow, the owner of Darn Good Yarn and winner of the 2012 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest, using social media marketing comes down to knowing who your audience is, where they are, and what they need.

"My customers love Pinterest, get tutorials from YouTube and check in on their grandkids on Facebook," Nicole says. "So, I need to have the right presence in all of these places."

Darn Good Yarn, a specialty e-retailer focusing on unique, high-quality fair trade yarns from around the world, learned that it was important to find out where on social its customers are before it built a social media marketing plan. 

It's equally important to your plan to learn what they want to hear about. Catering your small-business social media marketing to your audience's interests makes it more likely to be read, posted, shared and followed.

"It's not all about selling. It's about stepping back and figuring out how I can enrich my customers’ lives," Nicole added. "Would they like to see a bread recipe? Then I post a link on my Facebook wall. Are my younger customers using Instagram to track their lives? I take notes and post about my life to start to build a following and trend what they are posting about."

Tip #2: Be positive, stay consistent.
Social media professionals will often say that the only thing worse than not having a social presence marketing plan is starting one… and then suddenly stopping it. If your customers and potential customers get used to interacting with you on social channels, abruptly going dark will leave a poor impression — kind of like walking away from someone in the middle of a conversation.

Of course, it's not just what you say, it's also how you say it. For Ari Hoffman, owner of GOBIE H20, a company that sells environmentally friendly water bottles, staying positive with content is the key.

"Whatever solution your company is providing, try to make sure you focus on that," Ari said. "Don't focus too heavily on the problem. People like to feel positive, but if you harp on what is wrong or on the past too much, it makes your company feel stuck. Almost like there's no forward potential."

To make sure his social media marketing content strikes an upbeat tone, Ari concentrates on how his product helps provide solutions, rather than reminding readers of problems. And, when it seemed like it was taking some time for his social media marketing ideas to gain traction, Ari learned another valuable lesson: consistency.

Small businesses should take it one step at a time, Ari advised, and simply keep trying.

"We try and look forward as much as we can. It is very hard to try and get where you are going if you are constantly looking at what is behind you. Turn forward, plot your course and move ahead! Don't forget to always be positive with your content."

Tip #3: Tell a great story
One way to activate the power of social media marketing is to turn the history or mission of your business into a kind of interactive story that your audience can get involved in.

For example, the tale of how Darn Good Yarn was founded is in many ways a quintessential example of entrepreneurship, and Nicole knows that customers will identify with it.

"Branding for a small business isn't just the 'swoosh' logo and sweet slogan like 'Just Do It'," Nicole says. "It's about our story. Once a small business realizes that building the story into an interactive novel where customers are characters in it, they can create the most important and most long-lasting marketing out there."

Ari uses social media storytelling to help share the mission of his company, and connect with a larger audience.

"People inherently like to be a part of something," Ari says. "When you provide them with a business that has a personal side… such as something relatable that tells a story… folks can't help but get involved. Often, they'll want to help share your story and feel like they are personally part of it. It's a huge win when your customers feel like they are truly involved with something bigger than just themselves."

Tip #4: Quality counts as much as quantity
When you first embark upon a social media marketing plan, there's an understandable temptation to rely solely on the numbers. For example, you might set a quarterly goal of growing your Twitter or Facebook followers to 10,000.

But Danny Catullo, the owner of Catullo Prime Meats, a direct-to-consumer e-tailer of specialty meats, found that for his business, concentrating on the quality of his social marketing ideas was vital.

"The advice I would give to others would be to make sure not to only focus on quantitative successes such as Facebook likes, Twitter followers and views on YouTube," Danny said. "Those are important and can be used to better understand your customers (potential and returning) and help you make better choices in the future. The quality of your entire work, however, will help you maintain your brand and allow you to paint a broader picture of how your company is the one people should use."

Tip #5: Patience is a virtue
When it comes to building your social media marketing, approach it just like you did when you were building your business: with patience.

You already know that success takes time, fortitude and perseverance. Social marketing is no different, according to Nicole Snow.

"It's easy to get discouraged that you aren't building a following as quickly as you wanted. And many people stop as a result. The truth is, building a following takes an incredible amount of work."

Learn more about our FedEx Small Business Grant recipients
If you enjoyed these tips from small business owners and want to learn more about them, please take a moment to visit them online:

Darn Good Yarn not only sells special, unique yarns, patterns and ready-made goodies, it also has a highly followed Facebook page and its own show on Google+

GOBIE H20 offers the world's first fully portable, reusable, zero-waste, filtered water bottle. You can learn more about their mission on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

At Catullo Prime Meats, you can not only find great steaks, chops and filets, you can also get your very own turducken and learn the secrets of gourmet grilling on their YouTube channel.

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