johnjJohn Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach, award-winning social media publisher and author of “Duct Tape Marketing – The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide” He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing small-business marketing system and Duct Tape Marketing Authorized Coach Network. SmartBrief on Social Media Lead Editor Jesse Stanchak caught up with John to talk about some of the challenges small businesses face in getting their social presence off the ground.

How soon should a young company start thinking about social marketing?

Well, the answer to that depends on business and marketing objectives. Developing a strategy that incorporates any form of social media rests on what you’re trying to do, but I think more small businesses need to look at social media not solely as a set of tactics and perhaps more of a behavior. Your entire universe of prospects, customers, suppliers, advisers, partners and competitors can be served employing social media behavior.

Does a small company really need a dedicated social media employee? Should it fall in with the rest of the communication departments’ duties? Should it be everyone’s job?

Social media participation, when viewed as described above, should be orchestrated, but integrated throughout. Every employee should learn and teach social media practices and I would certainly include past social media participation in the hiring process.

Scalability is one of the biggest challenges facing a small business that’s figured out how to build a social media following. What advice do you have for socially savvy companies that want to avoid becoming victims of their own success?

Create systems and processes for all social media activity, just like you would for any function. Don’t hang out on twitter, check in. Create real benchmarks and goals to analyze ROI.

A lot of small businesses feel pressured to maintain a presence across several different networks, even if they’re a little short staffed. Is is it better to have a light presence in several networks or invest heavily in one?

I think there is a balance. Part of what’s accomplished by creating brand optimized profiles on lots of networks is a real estate play where you control all the content. Search engines seem to like social media content so it’s a good idea to give them lots of it.

On the other hand, it’s also a good idea to pick one or two network and go much deeper so you can create some real momentum and real engagement.

Do small business-to-business companies need to use social networks differently than small consumer-focused businesses? Is it a strategic or a tactical difference? How so?

Sure, just like traditional marketing strategies and tactics differ for those types of organizations. Social media is a tool to help meet objectives and the two kinds of businesses certainly have different objectives.

A typical B2B company might want to use social media primarily as a way to demonstrate expertise and create awareness for content that might start sales conversations.

A consumer business might want to focus on networks and platforms that can create word of mouth buzz for various product launches or campaigns.

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23 Responses to “Getting your small business started with social media”

  1. Spenser says:

    As a freelance social media guy, it’s a struggle to convince non-users of said media to understand the value of networking and advertising in such places. However, the second they see the analytics of traffic generated, they can’t wait to hire on extra people and push toward new goals.

    Just like you said regarding search engines loving SM content, we’re striving to placate the search results with sites aka social media, that all point back to the desired content. In this way, regardless of depth, you are promoting the business.

    My poorly written two cents

  2. Indeed, it is hard to convince non-users that social media truly does provide a benefit and just isn’t something the kids are doing these days to waste time and not work. It’s important for higher ups to understand that orchestrating a social media campaign isn’t something to take lightly. Extensive thought and planning should be put into a social media campaign. Great advice and tips here in this post.

  3. Hank Wasiak says:

    Good Post and great asset-based thinking advice. Your comments are right in line with something that I discussed in a prentation to the 140character conference in Los Angeles. Social Media has morphed into the Fifth Pillar of the marketing mix. PEOPLE…right up there with the other 4..Product,Price,Place,Promotion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apKvVyEQrCc

    Hank Wasiak

  4. Paul Chaney says:

    I <3 the "mindset" remark. I've said the same thing for quite some time, "social media is a mindset, not just a toolset." In fact, it's in my book, The Digital Handshake. :-)

  5. Good advice on social media for small businesses, especially the emphasis on behavior. Too many people focus on the technology, but not the behavior and its the behavior that makes social media successful for a business.

  6. Kristopher says:

    Great read! I just joined LoopDesk a month ago, and found 2 new clients already. Loopdesk.com is a pretty new site, but great for business to business networking. Its easy to use and growing pretty fast. The best part is that every is a business owner so it is great exposure for a small business. There is a onetime fee, but its cheaper than the sites that charge you monthly. Just thought I would share!

  7. On December 31 my blog article on this subject was reposted on customerthink.com.

    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/social_media_coming_soon_to_your_workplace

    Since last year I have been training individuals and companies in the use of my simple and duplicatable brainstorming-based process or tool. It’s specifically designed to incorporate social media networking principles into daily operations in any business or organization.

    The process’s key byproduct is authentic engagement between various employees and departments, and a greater sense of ownership by every stakeholder. It also reduces “silo effect” stagnation, gives every participant a non-threatening forum to test and hone their professional intuition, helps management to recognize the best participants for their contributions, and maintains instant documentation for easier adapting or expansion.

    I’d be very interested to learn about any similar approaches out there.

  8. Ken Accardi says:

    Great article about keeping it real and metric driven! I’m the CTO of a start-up company called Ankota, Inc. and am able to participate in the social media conversation using very little time and with measurable results (such as site traffic to our blog at http://www.ankota.com/blog and keyword rankings versus our competition).

    Nice job Jesse!

  9. tallulah says:

    Social Media ROI seems to be the big topic this week. Other SM gurus – David Meerman Scott, Brian Solis, Todd Defren – have all been talking about it. DMScott basically had an ROI Rant that’s been circulating throughout the blogosphere. I think there’s a big debate as to whether ROI can really be determined in Social Media campaigns and programs, and that makes It tough for many PR and Social Media consultants who are still trying to convince clients of SMedia benefits.

    To me the question is not whether Small Businesses can afford to adopt social media; it’s whether they can afford NOT to. I think Brian Solis said it best in his post today regarding the Socialization of Small Business http://www.briansolis.com/2010/01/the-socialization-of-small-business/:

    if a conversation takes place online and you’re not there to hear it, did it actually happen?

    Of course it did…and it continues – with or without you.

    The “I” in ROI does not stand for ignorance.

    I think the best way to prove to yourself and your clients that Social Media is worth while is to FIRST monitor the web – “Who’s talking about you?”–The answer to that question may better justify the decision to engage with one’s online audience. Maybe the issue of ROI comes second to this.

  10. [...] Why social marketing is a mind-set, not a tool Small businesses need to integrate their social strategy into everything they do, says John Jantsch, creator of Duct Tape Marketing. Every employee should be part of the company’s social presence, and every aspect of the business should be involved, he adds. “Your entire universe of prospects, customers, suppliers, advisers, partners and competitors can be served employing social media behavior,” Jantsch says.  SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Social Media [...]

  11. Shallie Bey says:

    Thanks for mentioning the importance of knowing what you want and to have a strategy to get you where you want to go. So often, people are applying tactics that have no direction. It is like idling a tank full of gas parked in your driveway. It doesn’t get you anywhere…just burns up resources.

    Shallie Bey
    Smarter Small Business Blog

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  13. Mike says:

    Great article. As a young learner in the game right now, it's hard to convince clients the ROI of a successful SM campaign. It's generally low cost marketing tool that is easily monitored and tracked but is a fairly untapped resource for most businesses.
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  16. James says:

    Social Media is important, but at the end of the day it’s tool. If you don’t know how to use a hammer it won’t help you at all. You have to know how to use social media to benefit your company.
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  17. Matt W. says:

    I've also noticed that many small biz owners are getting stuck in the planning mode and putting off their social marketing campaigns. But the only way to learn is to take action.

    Their own employees are also a good resource base to start with. Or they can hire a social marketing professional and have an employee interested in it work closely with the professional to learn how it is done.

    Social marketing campaigns may also be a good way for business owners to engage in productive conversations with their employees. Many employees have great marketing ideas but are just too shy or do not want to take the risk of voicing them out.

    So if a company is becoming more social externally, they should start being social internally as well. Social marketing can also be a start of the process wherein a company can refine, renew, and re-energize their brand or USP.
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