Small business: Building relationships online

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Linda Coles public speaker and director of Blue Banana. Photo / Supplied
Linda Coles public speaker and director of Blue Banana. Photo / Supplied

Blue Banana's Linda Coles, Speaker, Author and Consultant on building relationships online talks to Gill South.

Social media marketing has now become a mainstream part of many small businesses with some doing an superb job being not only being creative, but really engaging their target market with their product voice.

A great example of this would be Collective Dairy who set about their marketing campaign with very little to no budget, when they took to Facebook not that long ago.

Tips for using social media:

Target market

Find out in detail just who your target market are, not who you think they are, and then find out which online platforms they hang out on. If you are primarily Business 2 Business rather than Business 2 Consumer, then you will be better off concentrating your efforts blogging or networking with other business people on LinkedIn.

Yes, Facebook can be used for B2B, but you will never get the volume of fans and interest that a B2C company will generate.

Plan

It needn't be hard to make a simple one page plan that works in with the rest of your marketing. Start with a simple calendar, plan in all of the Hallmark dates such as Valentines, Christmas etc, add in any industry events such as trade shows you will be attending.

With the remaining gaps, fill in with themes that you are easily able to talk about that are related to your product. For example, a food manufacturer, may add in themes such as "how we make it" or "new flavor ideas appeal" which gives them a topic to focus on for say a two week period. Add to that impromptu events such as rugby wins or high news topics and see how you can incorporate those too.

Resources

Let's face it, in most companies there is simply no slack available, so who is going to run your online efforts? All too often the job is given to the one with a little free bandwidth who is in most cases, not the person for the job. Who would you trust the voice of the company to?

It may just be yourself to start with, but that doesn't mean you have to do all of the work. Brainstorm your marketing plan themes with the rest of the team to get some input, then ask for volunteers who would like to work on getting things up and running. Discuss some finer points such as what conversational tone you are looking for, for instance, no text talk, and who will be ultimately responsible, and when you are away.

Set a limit

Get good at one platform first before you move on to the next. Pinterest, the online scrapbooking site, may be superb for anything food or female, but that doesn't mean you need to rush out and start pinning with a vengeance.

Do the job right, then move on later when resources permit, don't dilute your results.

Next week, we will be looking at some New Zealand entrepreneurs and how they get the word out about their inventions. What are your channels? YouTube? Through company websites, blogs?
Tell us your stories. Email me, Gill South at the link below:

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