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Can Social Media Marketing Work For Your Small Iowa Business?

If you think that your business is too small, too local or too Iowan for social media marketing to have an effect on your business, think about this.

How do you buy products and services today? What is the first couple of things that you do to begin the process? I am guessing that some type of internet research was very close to the top of your “to do” list. The fact of the matter is that the evolution of technology has completely changed how we as consumers make purchase decisions.

So if consumers have changed the way that they buy products and services, small businesses need to change the way that they market to their customers. Customers are looking for ways to engage, converse and learn about the things that they need. They are searching on Google, reading blogs, talking on Facebook, following Tweets, participating in forums, viewing product videos and demonstrations on YouTube, etc. Small Businesses need to join the conversation! Small businesses need to enter the social media circus and engage with their customers.

In the next few posts I will go through some steps most digital marketing experts suggest in some form. Before I go onto the steps, a word of caution. Don’t jump in without a little prep work.

At a recent Omaha conference Brian Jennewien, Director of Social Media at Info Group and contributor to the StormDawg Marketing Blog likened social media to a highschool party. You are trying to fit in with the “in” crowd. If you run into the party and start talking too much without knowing anyone you might be looked at as CRAZY. If you start conversations about things that people at the party really don’t care about you might be looked at as annoying. If you go in, listen, lurk, participate and then engage and share you will be “in”.

Here are the steps. Keep in mind that these may be summarized and may be worded differently from other experts, but all in all they are about the same. If I missed something PLEASE leave a comment!

1. Plan! Before you begin you need to decide who you are trying to engage and what you want them to hear from you. What exactly do you hope that social media will do for your business?

2. Listen! What are your customers talking about? Are they talking about you? Are they talking about your customers? What kind of conversations are going on about your industry and the product or service you are offering?

3. Join! Before you start sharing your own information join other conversations. Comment on blogs, answer questions in linkedin groups, etc.

4. Share! This is where you start to engage your customers through blogs, facebook, twitter, etc.

I will be elaborating on each of these steps in the next few posts.

If you have anything to add please feel free to comment. The Iowa Western SBDCwill be happy to assist Council Bluffs and southwest Iowa small businesses with their own social media marketing efforts. The Iowa SBDC’s are a free resource to all Iowa businesses for all of their business needs.

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