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Realistic Internet Marketing Options For Small Business Owner

Twitter bird logo.Small Business owners, whether running online companies or brick and mortar shops are being forced to participate in social media.  Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are aggressively pursuing social media based marketing and mobile platforms.  Businesses that wish to be found and introduced to new customers have to play the social media game or risk disappearing from view for customers.  Social media now dictates search engine placement, review visibility, and even showing up when people search for places on maps.  Its clear that social media is now affecting all aspects of business marketing on the internet.

So whats a business owner to do about social media?Running a good business with a good product or service takes time and dedication.  Business owners already manage inventory, employees, the premises, accounting, marketing, and customers.  Often times, running a business is about picking just a few things a day and knocking them out before they get out of control.  For many business owners the thought of adding social media to their routine is not a priority.  So how does a business owner handle the ever growing market demands for social media?

Ignore social media altogether?There are businesses out there that thrive on old fashioned marketing like word of mouth.  They have a good brand and clients come back week after week based on reputation.  Social media doesn't play a factor in the owner's day to day activities.  This approach will work for a while but as more and more people engage in social media and grow up with it, a business relying on reputation alone will have a hard time competing for attention of new customers.

Outsource social media?Some businesses choose to hire an agency, consultant, or intern to do social media marketing.  The owners don't have time or interest in managing Tweets and Facebook posts so they pay for someone to do it instead.  This is a good compromise between time and money but only if the consultant or agency has a good plan and process in place for representing the business.  Often times an outsourced social media campaign will consist of coupons or give aways because it requires minimal effort to produce such a basic social campaign.  This tends to attract bargain hunters, which many business owners know is a less than optimal market segment to deal with.  A good outsourced campaign will instead try to focus on building partnerships with other local business owners, engage local communities, and speak directly about the business and its employees.  Such a long term approach builds value and loyalty that converts to customers and sales.

Hire an employee or intern to do social media?If a business is generating enough revenue to staff a social media director in-house then hiring someone who is aware of and involved in day to day activities of the business to represent that business on social media is not a bad option.  The in-house social media expert becomes a two way communicator, speaking through social media to the customers, and speaking on behalf of the customers to the business owner.  The two way communication is critical and if done correctly really makes social media effective at building a customer base.  Unfortunately even in the largest companies, social media activities occur only a few hours a day tops, so hiring a person to do this full time is difficult and getting a good quality person at part time is even harder.

Do social media yourself with your employees?Every day Google and Facebook are making social media more and more authentic to keep people's attention.  Faced with this inevitability, business owners should consider directly participating in social media activities that represent their business.  Even to go as far as requiring employees to participate too.  Customers on social media crave connections with other people, not businesses.  As a customer, which would you rather be followed by on Twitter, a coffee shop or the owner of said shop?  Your gut answer: yes, says where social media is going.  Business owners need to start carving out a few minutes a day to represent their business on social media. 

How to do social media correctly as a business owner?Social media is a never ending task that can quickly overwhelm any business owner.  On a day to day basis all it takes is a few well placed Tweets and Facebook posts but most owners get caught in the noise and get discouraged.  If an owner spends 5 hours a day on social media and brings in a handful of likes thats a discouraging day.  However, if that same owner spends 15 minutes a day on social media, brings in a handful of likes then their online ranking is boosted and its a success.  Repeat that 15 minutes a day for a few months and the business grows to thousands of social media followers.  That takes discipline, which is why a tool like AwareLabs is a must have for business owners.   It draws clear lines on what social media activities need to be done on a daily basis to bring value without burning time.  See how AwareLabs works at keeping your business relevant in a social media dominated market.

Written By: Paul Kenjora

Paul Kenjora is the Product Manager and founder at AwareLabs, a company that provides the next generation website builder for small businesses. He has 10+ years product development experience, has launched sites netting millions of visits a day, and has consulted for fortune 500 companies.