Small business owners seem to travel two paths when it comes to promoting their social media presence. Those that travel the first path pull out all the stops: they place Facebook ads, tag others in their posts and tweets, and decorate their Web page with icons of all their social media outposts.
Those on the second path know that having a solid social media presence is important for their business, but feel that they don’t have the technical expertise, time, or resources to make their presence well known.
I’d like to address these “second pathers.” It can be daunting to learn how to best promote your social media sites. If you’ve gone on the Internet for help, you might have become more overwhelmed by the suggestions found there. Many of these solutions require skills or time you might not have.
So let me provide an alternative. This option is free, requires no technical expertise, and can be completed within 15 seconds.
Try it with me now. Open your mouth and say the following: “Come join us on Facebook.”
How did that make you feel?
If your hand is still on the panic button, it’s time for me to reveal the most compelling reason to use your mouth to market your online presence: you can customize your message to meet the needs of each customer you speak to. Let me tell you a personal story of how simple words made a difference to me as a consumer. In the 1990s, I was a size zero. Every month, I’d go to the mall in vain looking for clothes that fit. When salespeople shouted over through the dressing room door, “How are you doing?,” I’d tell them my sizing woes. Smart salespeople at a few of the chain stores seized this opportunity to tell me that I could find smaller sizes on their Websites. This was brilliant. With this quick bit of information, they helped me find clothes that fit and helped themselves by making a sale … and a loyal customer. During those “slim days,” I bought my clothes almost exclusively from those Websites.
Talking about the presence and benefits of your Facebook or Twitter accounts is just an extension of this anecdote. If you sense that a customer is skittish about your prices, tell him “We give out monthly coupons to our Twitter followers.” If you know a particular customer seeks the latest and greatest product in your niche, tell her “We announce our newest goods regularly on our Facebook page. Look for us and join us there.”
If your business is more event driven or you have less time to interact one-on-one with your customers, you can still spread the word. Here are two examples of people who I think do this well. First is Diane Rehm of The Diane Rehm Show on National Public Radio. This 74 year-old, raspy-voiced talk show host has her system down. She ends her introduction to each show with “You can join us on Facebook or send us a tweet.” It warms my heart every time I hear it. (And by the way, she’s up to 11,500 followers on Twitter.)
Ben Rudnick and Friends is a rootsy-folk children’s band based in my slice of suburbia. I’ve seen a bunch of his shows — and at all of them, he never fails to announce “Thanks for coming. Come find us on Facebook and YouTube.” The kids could care less, but the parents are listening — “A Frog Named Sam” has over 20,000 hits on YouTube and his Facebook page has over 300 fans.
Although I’ve offered these tips for the “second pathers,” they should not be overlooked by those businesses cruising on the first path. Sure — the first pathers know how to work their tags and landing pages — but they shouldn’t underestimate the power of using their mouths.