Monthly Archive: May 2010

Social Media 101 for Small Business — Content Development

A couple weeks ago we discussed some of the most popular platforms for social media for a small business. (View this post.) The focus was on a company blog, facebook and twitter. This week we’ll dive into strategies for the development of content for these platforms.

Most of us involved with small business have to wear multiple hats and don’t have the luxury of a full time copy writer. Hopefully you have somebody on your staff who can do a little writing. If not, there are some options for you that we’ll explore in a moment.

Be an ExpertStep One: Be an Expert
Give some thought to what type of content would be valuable to your customers and prospective clients. What type of knowledge do you have that they do not? Obviously you don’t want to give away all of your trade secrets. But at the same time, if the content doesn’t have value to your customers, it won’t be effective in grabbing their attention.

Let’s pretend that we’re a garden nursery, and that our primary business model is to sell plants, trees and shrubs. Don’t limit yourself to writing just about your specific products. Your content will be even stronger if you can also write around the periphery of your business — a great technique for not giving away all of your knowledge for free. The content needs to relate to your business, but this will open up the doors to many more ideas than if you limit yourself to only your core business. A few story ideas might be “Know when to fertilize your lawn” or “Grasses that grow well in Kansas”.

Develop a list of potential story ideas. This is a great time for brainstorming ideas. Think about seasonal topics. Broad industry topics. And of course stories that relate to your specific products. Add to this list whenever new story ideas come to mind. Many of them you may never get around to developing into useful content, but the act of brainstorming and developing lists will help develop new ideas to write about.

Step Two: Cross Platform Content Development
So you’ve decided how you can portray yourself as an expert in your field, and have developed a list of potential story ideas. Now give some thought to how you can share your content across different platforms. Do you do a company newsletter, either a print version or an emailed version? If not, this would be a good time to consider doing one. You’re already going to be developing content, and newsletters remain an effective way to promote your business. It’s not social media, but as small business people we must find ways to work efficiently and effectively. And sharing content across multiple marketing and social media platforms is a great use of our limited resources.

So for our nursery we’ve decided we want to write an article on what types of plants thrive in direct sunlight that bloom during the summer months. (Can you tell I was gardening this last weekend?) For our newsletter, we’re going to write an extended version of this content — anywhere from ten to twenty paragraphs of information. This fits well into our company’s printed newsletter as our feature article. Keep the article informational, and not salesy. It’s OK to give it a little personality if you can, but the point is to develop content that is useful for your customers.

After this is done, you can now cannibalize the content for the rest of your media needs. If the content isn’t too long, you can use it on your blog, or condense it to a more blog-friendly length. Use the first few paragraphs in your e-newsletter with a link to the complete article on your website. Post some short quips on your facebook page — you might even be able to pull multiple short quips so that you can post content on facebook on several different occasions from this same story. And finally, you need a few very short quips for tweets.

This is a fine strategy for what I would call your core content. Your feature articles. Spend a couple hours writing an article then use it across all of your promotional platforms. But you’ll also need to develop some shorter content for your social media as well.

Step Three: Quick Hits
You will need to mix in some quickies into your social media. This is the best place to let your personality shine. Where your newsletter needs to be a bit more serious, let your hair hang out a bit with your facebook posts and tweets. Comment on special things that are going on at your business. Maybe you’re excited about a new product and want to share a picture and a quick description. Maybe you want to let people know about a special award you’ve received, or a community project you’re involved in. Or maybe you just want to say TGIF!

Let me give you a quick piece of advice: people like to do business with people they like. Let them get to know you better through your posts and tweets. Let them see some character and some personality.

Help! I Can’t Write!
So you say that you can’t write? And nobody on your staff wants to do it either? There are options. If there’s a college in your area, make friends with somebody in the journalism department. College students need experience, and often come cheap. Look around your community, there are probably a number of freelance writers who work from home. Do you belong to any trade organizations? They may have outlets where you can buy content or hire writers. And there are many online communities of writers where you can post your needs for a freelance writer.

Well what are you waiting for? Get to it. And happy marketing.

Promotional Clogs and Footwear

Sandals, flip flops and clogs make fun promotional gifts. Ideal for travel agencies, resorts, or to promote an upcoming event, promotional footwear will make a unique impression on your customers. And some of them will even make a unique impression in the sand.

Kauai Flip Flops -- Promotional FootwearKauai Flip Flops
The Kauai are high-quality custom leather flip flops. Made with an 18mm EVA/rubber sole, embroidered nubuck leather straps and leather insole with recessed foot bed, arch support, and toe lift. The Kauai is available with the optional die-cut talking “Logo Footprint” that leaves an impression of your logo in the sand. Excellent for President’s Clubs, high achievers, or any customer who wants the very best corporate custom logo flip flop. Similar to Rainbow® brand sandals.

Clogs -- Promotional FootwearClogs
These custom logo clog shoes are made with a lightweight quality EVA foam, and are waterproof and anti-bacterial, similar to Crocs™ brand footwear. Custom printed straps will showcase your name or logo. Comfortable and durable, these clogs also feature non-slip traction sole, perfect for all outdoor activities, and are a unique corporate logo gift, for school fund raising, or for corporate travel. Printed in the USA.

Tourista Flip Flops -- Promotional FootwearTourista Flip Flops
The new domestic custom logo Tourista flip flop sandals are designed for those with limited budgets and high expectations, and blow away other inexpensive flip flops. Utilizing a quality PE rubber non-slip insole and real rubber straps (no pvc!), the comfortable Tourista makes a unique custom corporate gift, for school fund raising, gyms or for other clients wanting to buy bulk budget custom logo flip flops. Printed in the USA.

Just call us for more great ideas in promotional footwear. Your feet will be glad you did.

Marketing Makes Good Scents

Research has shown that scent enhances consumer product memories. According to the website Lets Get Scented, “Scent marketing is becoming an incredible tool as brands discover the role scent plays in connecting with customers on an emotional level. It is most effective when combined with other sensory triggers, such as sight, sound and textures to create a unique customer experience. Scent can trigger a memory or desire that influences a purchase decision. Across industries, businesses are using scent as part of multi-sensory marketing strategies to enhance customers’ experiences of a location and its products or services.”

The promotional products industry has been expanding into scented products. One of my favorites are these new Good Scents Pens.  They’re available in several wonderful scents including chocolate chips, mocha latte, strawberry fields, vanilla dream (my favorite), green meadow, lemon zest and orange crush (available soon).

Good Scents Pens

And better yet, these pens are made in the USA with 50% renewable plastic. Eco-friendly and USA made make these pens a Scentsational promotion.

Social Media 101 for Small Business — An Introduction to Web 2.0

I'm a Social Media SpecialistSometimes just getting started with something new can be intimidating. Social media sounds a little scary. And many small businesses are still trying to discover how they can implement social media into their marketing plans. It’s really not that difficult. And it doesn’t have to be that time consuming. But it does take a little understanding and planning.

Web 2.0
You’ve probably heard of Web 2.0, but have wondered what it means. It simply signifies the second generation of usage of the Internet to convey information to clients. If you think of Web 1.0 as simple websites — basically brochures online — then Web 2.0 is the next step of actual interaction online with your customers. Today we’ll cover some of the basics of the most commonly used systems for interacting with your customers online: blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Blogs have been around so long that people tend to forget about them as part of Web 2.0, but they’re an important element of your online marketing plans. For years we’ve instructed companies to find ways to make their website informative and useful. Ways to keep the content fresh and up-to-date. And ways to keep visitors returning to your website. A blog is an excellent vehicle to do just that. Though we’ll discuss next time more in-depth ways to develop content for a blog, think about what type of information would  be useful to your clients and prospective customers. Think about how you can position yourself as an expert with valuable knowledge.

There are a number of ways to create a blog. There are online services such as WordPress and Blogspot that make it quite easy to start a blog. But the best method is to add a blog directly to your website. There are a number of benefits to adding the blog to your site. In particular, it allows you greater control of the look and feel of the blog, and the search engines will like your site more if the blog is part of your site. I suggest the blog to go somewhere like: You can check with your hosting company to see if adding the blog to your current website is possible. With many of the national hosting companies, adding a blog to your site is as simple as a few clicks.

I’d give you a link to our blog, but you’re already on it!

I have to admit that I’d been a bit slow to embrace Facebook. But now that I have, I’ve certainly found it to be enjoyable. It’s allowed me to re-connect with plenty of old friends. And it has opened up doors to plenty of potential customers.

You want to make sure you setup what Facebook calls a “fan” page, and not a personal page, often referred to as a profile. With a fan page, anybody can view the content on the page. And anybody with a personal Facebook profile can “like” your page. Once a person “likes” your page, which for them as as easy as a mouse click, when you post something on your fan page, it places the comment on your fans’ news feed.

You can view our Facebook page here.

Facebook made a recent change to how customers interact with your fan page. In the past, they used to refer to this as “become a fan”, but now it’s just a “like” button on your fan page.

As far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of Twitter for a small business. Though I would still implement this as part of your Web 2.0 marketing plan. Twitter is a way to quickly and easily convey small bits of information to your followers. People with Twitter accounts decide to “follow” people and businesses. And when the people and businesses they follow tweet, post a comment on their Twitter account, the tweet shows up in the follower’s Twitter feed.

The drawback is that unless most of your customers are college students, they’re probably not using Twitter. But many businesses are beginning to use Twitter, and it’s better to be on the front of this curve than behind it.

You can view our Twitter account here.

Next Time
Integrating Web 2.0 into your company’s marketing plans is smart business. Learning how to develop content is the next step in utilizing social media for a small business. Next time we’ll talk about how to develop content, and how to efficiently and effectively utilize that content across your different applications. So until then, happy marketing!

Cartoon from Gapingvoid.