I often get asked by small business people why should they bother with Social Media Marketing?

“It’s time consuming, confusing and I really don’t care what someone had for breakfast.”

Social Media … What an animal!

Of course that all can be true BUT Social Media can be another animal entirely if you want it to be, and what an animal! Think about all the times you’ve suggested, recommended or raved about a product or service that you have personally experienced. You gave your opinion and your recommendation to your family, friends, in fact, anyone who cared to ask for it.

Well, image that same scenario but multiplied by millions. Imagine how much power your recommendation would have if you mentioned it not just to family and friends but to the ‘whole world’!

social media marketing is a hoot

Social Media Marketing is a hoot!

That is exactly what social media does. It makes everything you say ‘out there’ accessible to everyone else. You are not just telling your friends on Facebook or your followers on Twitter who may only be a few, but also to all THEIR friends and followers, and their friends and followers and it goes on. So you can see the ripple effect of social media.

Is this good or bad for business?

Now in terms of whether this is good or bad for your business, think about how much more interested customers you would get if people were recommending your products and services via social media. The potential is huge!

Beware of the Dark Side

But there’s a dark side to this force as well. If you really upset even just one of your customers, this can impact your business big time. Imagine how much business you could lose if someone is frustrated on Facebook, ticked off on Twitter or livid on LinkedIn about YOU.

So social media is not just about what people are doing now or what they just ate, the animal that I see working every day is something quite different.

What about Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is the taming of that animal. Learning it’s ways, habits and tendencies and adapting your business to ensure the beast keeps coming home to you, purring contentedly. Getting good reviews, having people say nice things about your business online and referring other people to you is what we call ‘social proof’. This can be great for your business and your bottom line. If the reverse is true and you get bad reviews, nasty comments and no referrals, this can be disastrous for your business.

It’s Ideal for Small Business

And this is not just for big business, in fact, all this social media is ideally suited for small business and local businesses. In particular, the dramatic increase in use of smart phones has meant that we need to look at mobile marketing even more, but that’s another blog post.

Take for example, a bed and breakfast establishment in your town. It’s holiday season and people are thinking about getting away for a week. They do a search for ‘bed and breakfast’ in your town and the search results show up in Google (SEO working here!). The top 5 have a Google Places page with several reviews, so they go and have a look at those reviews. The first one has several really bad reviews saying that the breakfast was terrible or the staff rude and unfriendly. The second has great reviews say it’s like a home from home and very welcoming. It doesn’t take a genius to work out which of these two b&bs are going to get more business.

It still surprises me no end how many small businesses just don’t get this and worse still, don’t deal with the reviews that need dealing with. It’s a rapid decent into bankruptcy that many business owners are ignoring, thinking ‘no one reads the reviews anyway’. Well I’m sorry to have to burst your bubble but people definitely do read the reviews and they’re making their buying decisions from them.

Next time you’re online buying something, notice whether you take heed of reviews or not. I bet you do!