We know what a lot of the big brands have done to utilize social media and for companies like Ford, Starbucks and Target it has worked out well. So what about the little guys? How are small businesses utilizing social media and how has it been useful?
It turns out there are both good and bad examples. We’ll start with the good…
“Call this the year business invaded Twitter” this is a quote pulled from a recent Fortune magazine article that profiles how several small business owners leveraged social media to their benefit. The business owners learned quickly that the value of this tool is the ability to develop relationships, engage in a two-way conversation with brand enthusiasts, address customer concerns and when possible provide some added incentive to its loyal followers. Some great examples from the article include:
In Wichita, tea company 52 Teas (@52Teas) has more than doubled its sales of handcrafted teas of the week since it started tweeting. The company has 3,403 users following its weekly announcements of new blends.
In San Francisco, Mission Pie bakery (@missionpie) tweets about daily specials and organic pie recipes to its list of followers. This tweeted special often sells out that week.
In Los Angeles, Kogi Korean BBQ (@KogiBBQ) tweets to its 2,100 followers the destination of its Taco Truck which prompts people to line up around the block awaiting its arrival.
These small businesses have tapped into what is important to its clientele and consistently provide the information that attracted them in the first place. In the end, the customers are privy to the information they are most interested in and the businesses benefit from increased profit and brand recognition.
Whatever the size, businesses must remain relevant, transparent and timely when reaching out to its customers. The above businesses are examples of how to do just that. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad and as more businesses embrace social media we must deal with the missteps along the way.
Small business owners often make the mistake of joining Twitter only to use it as a vehicle to drive a sales pitch without engaging in any actual dialogue. I have had this happen to me a few times and often cringe when I receive the following Tweet or DM: “Thanks for the follow, Increase your # of followers and make $$$$ while you sleep”. Whether this individual is genuine with their intent, the message and approach immediately tells me they are trying to make a profit rather than provide useful information. (See below)
“Thanks for the follow! Find out Why I Eat a Frog For Breakfast! http://tinyurl.com/cdxojv “5:30 PM Jun 3rd (Delete and de-follow).
Furthermore, small businesses that use this approach run the risk of being categorized as spam, a trend that is rapidly on the rise according to this article from Mashable (@mashable). It would be naïve to think that businesses are not interested in utilizing social media to drive profits but at the very least we are beginning to see a right and a wrong way to do it. The brands that get it work to gain credibility and trust (and at times deliver a delicious product). Those that do not get it, immediately go for the sell as opposed to developing a relationship and listening to what the customers want (i.e. tacos curbside).