Social Media: The sucessor to Traditional Advertising?

As a keen networker I meet a lot of people who have set up their own business, and when I ask them what they did to get their business and services known when they started off the answers are often the same.  They would get a logo, then some stationery – some will have got a website & email to put on their business cards, then they took out some adverts:  Yellow Pages, local Chamber of Commerce Directory, sometimes online directories such as Scoot.  And when I ask the follow-up question “did you get much of a response to the ads” the answer is almost always “No – nothing”.

This resonates with me because I did exactly the same thing.  Part of the problem is that as budding entrepreneurs we have great enthusiasm for our products, but when we start off we don’t understand how to market them.

So one of the first, painful, lessons people learn when starting in business for themselves is that when they spend time and money advertising their business they want the phone to ring or to receive an email enquiry as a direct result.

One of the problems with traditional advertising is that these days people are looking to find out more about your company or service now than a simple ad tells them. They want social proof – in other words do other people, especially people they know, like the service.  Think Amazon – the 5 star ratings and customer reviews are a central feature of the website.  Think of looking at Tripadvisor before booking your holidays.

A business that understands this will be able to use social media platforms to grow their business in a way that traditional adverts cannot.

A good place to start is to get stuck into Twitter.  Through Twitter you can connect with thousands of people – what a great way of getting your services and brand known.  There are so many examples now of people getting business through Twitter.  I’ve filled a place one of my Social Media training courses because someone saw a tweet of one of the delegates.

Promoting your services and expertise to other businesses?  Go to LinkedIn, fill out a great profile, get at least 3 people to give you a recommendation.  Then use the advanced search feature to find your target market, get in touch and follow up.

Sell to consumers rather than other businesses?  Set up a Facebook page, and engage with your customers on there.  Don’t do the hard sell, it doesn’t work.  But use plenty of pictures and give your customers a reason for commenting on your posts. Say you’ve got a tyre shop. You change tyres – not very exciting, but you do good job and customers are happy. So when they pay their bill you ask if they are happy with the service.  They say “Yes”.  You say “Great – we collect happy customers.” They look at you blankly. You go on “Yes.  We collect their photos on Facebook.  Do you mind if I take a quick picture?”  Half will say no, but many will say OK. So you take the photo and tell them it will be on Facebook before they get home, and would they mind liking the page and saying why they were happy with the service. Their friends will see the comment, and some of them will think “My tyres are a bit bald, I’d better go there & get them done”.

Ben Gardiner

Ben Gardiner Social Media