October 17, 2011

By: 
Rachel Strella

Social Media: Champion for the Underdog!

Big businesses often have money, power, and confidence in numbers.  But don’t think that leaves small businesses in the dust.

There is a window of opportunity for small businesses, but it won’t be here forever. That opportunity is on social media and you can grab it by being YOU!

I’m a huge proponent of personalizing a brand because it’s incredibly uncomplicated.

Ernest Barbaric gave practical, employable advice in his blog, The Human Factor and Social Media. He also said: “It’s hard to have a conversation with a Ford…”

He’s right.

The bigger brands are trying, though. Wal-Mart that they will create approximately 3,500 store-specific Facebook pages to serve its nearly 9.5 million fans. This shows that big corporations are trying to be more personal. But they have a long way to go.

As a small business owner, you’re already there just by a willingness to be yourself.

What’s so important about being transparent?

In order to get me to buy from you, I need to trust you.  In order to trust you, I need to like you….and to like you, I need to know you!  It’s hard to get to “know” a big company. It’s simple to get to know a person or a few people, especially when they share information about themselves and the way they live their lives.

In the final bullet of Pam Moore’s, People Don’t Buy Things, They Join Things, she says, “Share yourself and your brand with me. Share your innards. Don’t be afraid to show your real self. But do so in a way that enables me to connect with you as a human being not as a cash register.”

Bingo.  It’s about being transparent, being human, and being real.

No sales messages!  Offer value and share information that your audience will want to hear!

A few tips for putting yourself out there:

  • Use a photo instead of a logo on social sites
  • Respond to customers in real-time
  • Mention people by name
  • Listen to the feedback – good and bad – and continually refine
  • Tell stories

Most importantly, find out the wants and needs of your audience and deliver solutions to them.  Offer this information without a price tag or any “got-to-buy-this-first” hidden agenda.

That’s real value, which could have people feeling a sense of gratitude, and eventually, feeling that they like you and your brand. Who knows? You might even move them to the trust stage! Whatever stage you’re at, just keep at it!

Jeffrey Gitomer said it best in his September 28 webinar, I Tweet Therefore I Am. “You become known by being visible. If you are embarrassed by who you are, the best thing you can do is go to McDonalds and take a job flipping burgers, then the most pressing question you’ll have is, ‘would you like fries with that?’”

And there you have it: be you or go work for a ‘big business.’

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6 comments on “Social Media: Champion for the Underdog!”

  1. Great points and great advice. Marketers and business owners sometimes lose sight of "Social" and think "Advertising" instead. With the rapid innovation and pervasiveness social networks are already having in our lives, there is a need to connect with something or someone real.

    Another interesting aspect of using a transparent or human approach is that it's much harder to be mad at Jim Jones from ComCast... then it is to get mad at ComCast (in case of a bad experience). Breaking those barriers down to a human level can have a tremendous impact on brand management and customers service as well.

    1. You must have read my mind because I was just having difficulties with Comcast, recently. "Will Cares" connected with me as opposed to "Comcast Cares." Only problem: Will told me to connect with him via a DM, but he had to follow me to do that (and he did not!).

      You're right, though. We are definitely in need of connecting with a real person. All the auto DM's, "press-this-button-to-talk-to-nobody," the blanketed sales approach to social media, and the "build it and they will come," mentality is out the door. We want a human being!

      Thanks for sharing your insight!

      Rachel

  2. I'm really surprised that the bigger brands haven't jumped aboard the social bandwagon sooner. Not that they need the exposure, but you'd think they'd want to take advantage of some free and easy publicity, especially to a market of predominately young people who seem to control the social realm.

    1. It sure can! Small businesses have more advantages than they realize - social media has leveled the playing field!

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