REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 13, 2008 — To help small businesses prioritize and navigate the social media landscape, marketing expert John Jantsch and Microsoft Office Live Small Business (http://www.smallbusiness.officelive.com) have created a free eBook titled “Let’s Talk: Social Media for Small Businesses,” available for download at http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/socialmedia/.
Determining what new social media tools should be used by small businesses can be a daunting task for time-strapped entrepreneurs. However, as millions of consumers continue to incorporate these tools into their daily lives, it’s clear that social media is no passing fad. In fact, as individuals are embracing social media more than ever, so too are small businesses. According to the latest study by New York-based Access Markets International (AMI) Partners Inc., over the next 12 months about 500,000 small businesses will use social networking as a resource for advertising and promotional activities.
The book offers the following tips:
A Web site is priority one. Social media tools can enhance and extend a small business’s Web presence and ultimately drive more visitors back to its Web site. If the business already has Web site, its content should be up to date and give visitors a clear call to action, such as who to contact or how to get more information. If the business doesn’t have a Web site, tools such as Office Live Small Business (http://www.smallbusiness.officelive.com) can help get one started for free.
Bet on blogging. Blogging is the doorway to other social marketing and where businesses can likely get excellent return for the time invested. Why? Because search engines love blog content. Creating frequent, keyword-rich posts can help a business show up more frequently in search results, as well as convey the personality behind the business. A business can provide a range of content such as tips and information on its products and services, industry trends, customer profiles and more. Customers can then comment, allowing businesses to engage them in conversation and deepen relationships.
Manage the online reputation. Businesses should monitor sites where customers could potentially post reviews about the business. Reviews on sites such as Yelp, Citysearch, Insider Pages and others often influence people who are researching businesses in their local area. Have a happy customer? Suggest he or she post a review online. Businesses can use negative reviews to their advantage by using them to gain valuable intelligence into why customers are dissatisfied. By joining the conversation, a business can communicate that customer feedback and satisfaction are important and that it is working to address any problems.
Cover more ground in less time with RSS. RSS can be thought of as two-way plumbing — it allows users to push and pull information out and in from multiple places. For example, a business can publish content on its blog and have it automatically appear on its Twitter and Facebook accounts. Businesses can consolidate feeds from multiple blogs, as well as feeds that automatically search for mentions of the business onto one page for easy scanning via an RSS reader. Doing this saves time and helps track the information needed to stay competitive.
Network, network, network! If the business is not expanding its social network, it needs to be. The more people that know and hear about the business, the more they can recommend it to others. Social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn are great tools to expand contacts and customer lists. Facebook even allows users to create groups that interested customers can join to receive the latest updates about a business. Businesses can also join groups that will allow them to connect with colleagues in their industry, as well as network with potential new customers.
Play with new toys. Social media is constantly evolving, and there is no telling what the hot tool of tomorrow will be. Businesses should experiment with new social media tools, but focus on a single objective (like networking with others, monitoring what’s being said about the business or extending the reach of thought leadership) to see how effective the tool is at achieving that objective. Not every social media tool will be right for every business, so businesses should make sure to prioritize time accordingly.
The complete eBook, “Let’s Talk: Social Media for Small Businesses,” filled with detailed strategies, case studies and practical guidance, is available at http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/socialmedia/.
About John Jantsch
John Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach who specializes in working with small businesses. In addition to the eBook “Let’s Talk: Social Media for Small Businesses,” he is the author of the book, “Duct Tape Marketing,” and the creator of the coaching system by the same name.
About Microsoft Office Live Small Business
Microsoft Office Live Small Business is the award-winning service that offers a complete, affordable set of easy-to-use Internet-based tools that help small-business owners get online, attract customers and manage their business. Small businesses can get started for free and receive a valuable set of tools and features, including Web hosting, rich site design capabilities, numerous productivity applications, contact management software for performing basic customer relationship management, and custom domain name registration with 100 business e-mail accounts (custom domains are free for the first year). Office Live Small Business has over 1 million customers in countries such as the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany and Japan. More information is available at http://www.smallbusiness.officelive.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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