Small businesses naturally tend to focus on daily actions that generate results, such as engaging prospects with their sales process, and then efficiently converting that interest into profits.
Advertising is a form of media that fits well with the small business mindset. It creates awareness, a sense of urgency, and a desire to take action now.
Unlike traditional advertising campaigns, social media takes time to do its job.
This is one reason why many small businesses are challenged with using it well. They view it as another form of advertising.
This also leads to the temptation to set up business pages on every social network to drive traffic to your websites.
This is not a good idea – especially when so many others are doing the same thing.
If you really want to drive traffic to your website – get personal. Learn how to use social media to humanize your business. It’s a simple process, one that admittedly takes time – but it works.
If you learn how to do this right, you will indeed differentiate your business – and in ways that are much more sustainable than traditional marketing practices.
Personal is More Trustworthy
Traditional marketing makes claims, often with competitive comparisons that may or may not be true. Some of these claims include being the best, the most awarded, and so on.
As a result, consumers have learned not to trust advertising. They have learned from experience that if something seems too good to be true – it probably isn’t.
Now every claim is challenged. This is why more consumers rely on the Internet to validate what they have learned from other sources – including word of mouth recommendations from friends.
What are they looking for? Not more marketing – that’s for sure.
Consumers are searching the web for reliable information – not necessarily from companies, but from real people who offer perspectives that are backed up by direct experience.
This is the power of content marketing - bringing truthfulness to the marketing equation.
Personalization is your strongest differentiator, and that is best accomplished via your personal social media accounts – and those of your team members.
Who you are is unique – and that is a business differentiator. It’s subtle, but it is nonetheless true.
The Company is Incidental
Anyone who manages a business presence on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ knows that it can be difficult to engage others. Why?
People have conversations with people – not companies.
You are more likely to engage your audience with a personal account – one where they can get to know and trust you.
Look at this from the perspective of a customer. When you receive outstanding service, you are more likely to recommend not just the company – but the person within it that was responsible for your favorable experience.
The company is incidental. What matters is who personally made a difference for you.
People Take Care of People
It has been said the best way to build a business is not to focus on the consumer, but those who serve them.
Have you ever been unsatisfied and ready to discontinue your relationship with a business – only to change your mind due to just one interaction with an especially caring representative?
That’s the power of personalization. When someone cares about you, its memorable.
This is also why personal social media accounts that are linked to a business can accomplish more than a business account.
Businesses often wonder if they can trust their staff to represent the company well online.
This is pretty simple. If you do not trust your staff to represent your company online, then you have the wrong people. If they are now successful offline, then they can do it online too.
As long as they respect the company, its vision and mission, and most importantly, its values – then let them be who they are.
Your staff will use social networking differently than you. That’s OK. Let them be themselves – because that personalization is the magic that makes it work.
Successful business is people taking care of people.
There just is no other way.
How exactly is this done?
This related article on Personal vs Professional Social Media Accounts will give you some ideas for further personalizing your online presence.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.
Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – Just Released April 2013 (Wiley)