One of the first articles ever published as part of this blog was a spotlight on a local business that was just being formed. That business, Gumdrop Swap has succeeded and grown from those inspiring start-up days. Now, years later – the proprietor, Gabby F. has become somewhat expert in the use of Social Media. Therefore, I recently followed up with Gabby and asked her to share some insights. This will be a two-part interview series. Part 1 is below.
1. How does social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) replace/supplement more traditional marketing methods (Advertising, PR efforts to be interviewed, holding events in the hopes that the media will cover it positively)?
Social media can be the great equalizer between big and small businesses. As a small business, you have the same potential to create a compelling campaign as a big corporation. Money doesn’t guarantee Facebook likes. Just look at GM pulling their Facebook ads recently. Everybody knows they make cars, how compelling could their ads have been? But a small business with a unique product or mission can quickly gain popularity. The more people that know your brand (your social reach), the more potential customers you have. A small business relies so much on word-of-mouth referrals. With so much technology, social media has replaced true socializing. So you need people to sing your company’s praises, share links, like, retweet, pin, etc. People text another person in the same house they’re in! If you ignore this shift in the way we consume and share info, your business is doomed.
Depending on what kind of work you do, traditional marketing methods may still be warranted. If you make a consumer product, you may benefit from an ad in a magazine that targets your audience. If you are an event planner, you should do a press release and invite news outlets to your event. The key is knowing your target audience. Young moms probably aren’t reading a printed newspaper. But if your business has something to do with finance, you would have the attention of the Wall Street types that read the paper on the train each morning. Whatever you do, you need to compliment traditional marketing with social media. If you are a micro-business with little to no marketing budget, the bare minimum web presence should be a website (could be a single page glorified business card) and Facebook page. If your business caters to women between the ages of 25-40 and your business has some visually stimulating element (interior designer, artist, fashion, etc) then you should probably get a Pinterest account which became very popular among this demographic.
2. What are the “tips and techniques” you have learned through your use of social media)?
Facebook is the media titan currently. Before it goes the way of Myspace, I find it to be a useful way to engage and interact with my potential customers (fans). Old fashioned marketing meant casting a wide net and hoping to snag some customers. I love the way Facebook ads let you scale down your target audience by gender, age, education, and even specific interests. You can even target people who are friends of people that are already your fans. But unless you have a specific promotion going on, I wouldn’t create an ad just to get Likes. If you provide a service or have a retail location, you may want to invest the time into writing a blog. Blogs quickly move up in Google ranking because the content tends to be updated more frequently than a website. WordPress blogs have so many widgets now, you can even sell product directly from the blog with a store widget. If you need help with social media or want a website built for an affordable rate, I recommend http://330made.com. They’re Fairfield County based team of entrepreneurs that have been there, done that when it comes to building their brands with a grass-roots approach.
As an example of how the business “practices what it preaches,” Gumdrop Swap is currently seeking to raise funds through a grant program being conducted through Social Media avenues. The details are below:
Chase and LivingSocial are awarding up to 12 $250,000 small business grants through their Mission: Small Business contest. Each qualifying business must get a minimum of 250 votes from Facebook users. If GumDrop Swap were to win the grant, we would use some of the money to move into a larger storefront on Main St which would allow us to better serve my customers. You can imagine how a grant this size would impact the business and the community. We will finally be able to hire help and have vowed to hire locally. To vote, go to http://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/ and on lower right click “log-in & support”, then search for “Gumdrop Swap” in the search bar to vote (no need to enter city/state), then click “vote”.