Published on February 11th, 2018 | by Sunit Nandi0
Social Media and Your Small Business — Is it Worth All the Fuss?
If you’re a small-business owner you’ve probably spent a lot of time lately on social media. You’re either fine tuning the look, writing or procuring content, managing posts, responding to comments and worrying about your strategies. You know how important social media is for your small business. But is all the time you’re spending on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the rest worth it?
There’s no question that refining, tweaking and participating in social media accounts is an ongoing process. Let’s say you’ve already created an “about” description (for an example, check out the “about section” of the Talus Payments YouTube Channel) to tell visitors what your business is and does. You’ve used keywords and phrases to optimize for search engines. And, you respond quickly to customer and prospect messages. What else should you be doing?
There’s also no question that engaging in social media is time-consuming. You may be asking yourself whether all the effort required to create and maintain a strong social media presence is worth it. Aside from the statistics and experts espousing the benefits, small businesses are indeed finding success with social media. Here are some of their stories and lessons you can learn to make your plans more effective.
Smoke’s Poutinerie: From No Marketing Budget to $28 Million in Sales
Ryan Smolkin had a dream. He wanted to launch his own fast-food restaurant specializing in poutine, a Canadian dish consisting of french fries and various combinations of cheese curds and gravy toppings. He had $400,000 to get started but not one dollar of his startup money went toward advertising.
Smolkin opened his first restaurant in November 2008. And that’s when he went work on social media. He set up a company Facebook account and spent hours every night sending friend requests. Soon, he had 500 followers on Facebook and lines of customers waiting to get in the restaurant door.
In no time, Facebook friends invited their own friends to like the restaurant page and by the end of 2009 Smolkin had doubled his friend count. Currently the restaurant’s like count is over 42,000 and growing. There are more than 60 stores across Canada and locations in the United States as well.
Even Smolkin is surprised at how quickly his business grew using social media as his sole method of advertising. The key to his success? He believes the way he uses Facebook and Twitter is key.
After he had a solid base of followers, he made sure to post something his target customers were interested in. Topics include food, new product information and local sport stories. Often, posts that garnered the most interest were off-the-wall either in context or announcements about goofy new product offerings.
Smolkin is a master at creating and maintaining a fun and engaging social media community. As an entrepreneur, he realized long ago that he is his business and in order for people to try his restaurant out and keep coming back, his personality and sense of humor had to shine through.
What’s the takeaway from Smolkin and his strictly social media advertising method? That it is possible to not only attract followers to your Facebook or Twitter pages but to actively grow your business. And it’s important to have fun, provide content of interest, post every single day and engage in a good-natured back-and-forth with followers.
Herschel Supply Co. — Small But Mighty
The Herschel Supply Co. manufactures backpacks, travel bags and bag accessories. Allison Butula, the company digital marketing manager, began looking for a way to improve engagement and further grow their small company. Butula along with other company execs set a seemingly simple goal to talk with everyone. It didn’t matter if they were customers, prospects or simply followers who asked questions. They wanted to talk to everyone.
The company didn’t limit itself to answering questions or talking about its own products but engaged on a personal level with customers on a variety of topics. For example, since travel bags are a big part of what Herschel Supply Co. produces, any travel related topic, from finding travel deals to travel how-to and safety advice was game.
Bututa credits social media for a 20 percent lift in customer service satisfaction. She believes that using Facebook in particular allowed the company to form a personal relationship with each customer. With nearly 800,000 likes, she can’t be wrong.
What’s the takeaway? By not limiting your social media posts and content to specifics about your company and products, it is possible to use social media to vastly improve customer satisfaction. Give followers supplemental information that makes their lives easier and they’ll keep coming back.
Cupcake Royale — A Little Taste of Heaven
Seattle-based Cupcake Royale perfected the art of not only making delicious cupcakes but successfully promoting across several platforms to engage fans. The company has a strong Snapchat presence and more than 60,000 likes on Facebook.
One of Cupcake Royale’s most effective community-building techniques is involving followers in the business. As the company experiments with new recipes and combinations or gets ready for holiday celebrations, they go directly to their followers and ask what flavors they’d like them to make. What could be more engaging than that?
And the takeaway? Make social media fun for your followers. Engage them. Let them have a say and they’ll think of themselves as family.
Bombas — Socks Can Change the World
The Bombas motto is “Better Socks. Better World.” After the founders discovered socks were the most requested items at homeless shelters across the U.S., they decided to make it their mission to donate a pair of socks for each pair sold and Bombas was born.
One of the company’s most compelling social media posts was a Facebook video ad targeted to drive online sales. And, drive online sales it did. Although the ad was not free, the company enjoyed a 30 percent increase in ROI. The click-thru rate increased 50 percent as well.
And what made the video so compelling? It wasn’t about how great the company is or how wonderful the socks are. Instead, it told the story of how founders Randy Goldberg and David Heath were inspired to help those in need. Simply put, the video touched the hearts of thousands.
The company was founded in 2013 and has nearly a quarter of a million Facebook followers. Over 2.5 million pairs of socks to date have been donated.
The takeaway? Most small businesses have limited advertising budgets. But social media offers many free options to grow your business. When you’re ready to take the next step, social media platforms offer low-cost high impact advertising as well.