Eyeballs make for good business. The more eyeballs you have on your, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media sites the greater the potential customer base.
Aromatologist Gillian Parkinson gets up to 50% of traffic to her website thanks to social media, which she dedicates time to daily. Parkinson has two different business personas active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. One for her Le'Esscience aromatherapy business and another for Tinkture, which sells tattoo aftercare products.
Le'Esscience gets 50% of its traffic from social media, says Parkinson, and Tinkture, attracts 42% of traffic from the same source.
Parkinson says her success in social media marketing is down to her philosophy of "sharing and caring". "It is not about tell and sell," she says. "I get fantastic feedback about what I am sharing and telling. It is a natural sell (from there)."
Facebook should need no introduction to Kiwis, many of whom spend hours a day posting to and reading the world's number one social media site. New Zealand businesses find many creative ways to raise their profile for free by getting Facebook users to "like" their pages.
For example they may offer Facebook users who "like" their page a special preview of an upcoming product. Or they might run a promotion where users need to "like" the company's page and then answer a question to enter a competition or be rewarded with a social media-only offer. The advantage of having users "like" a business' page is that it spreads the message to that individual's circle of Facebook friends.
Hugely popular in New Zealand as well is Twitter - a message service where short messages (tweets) can be posted. Users follow each other and the greater the number of followers a business has the wider your message is spread. Users can re-tweet information of interest disseminating it more widely. Twitter is a great way for individual business people and businesses to build profile as an "expert" in their field. Following the top Tweeters in an individual or business' sector helps them to reach out to a greater audience.
The new kid on the social media block is Pinterest. This social media site is all about images. Like an image? Then pin it to a board. Other users can re-pin the images should they find them appealing. There is no direct way for customers to buy products on Pinterest. But the marketing potential is huge. For businesses these images will be a catalogue of their products. This of course works better for some businesses than others. A creative business, for example producing unique New Zealand handcrafts might be of more interest to the Pinterest community than a heavy engineering company that designs and builds commercial paper shredders.
Richard Irvine social media manager at Telecom New Zealand says Pinterest and the other sites offer a great tool for small businesses to express their personalities. "It works best when it is done as a social exercise, rather than a marketing exercise. It's a powerful way to express what your company is all about."
To be successful, small businesses need a strategy, to be organised, and be interesting. The strategy needs to be integrated. facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites shouldn't be a standalone endeavour.
If you don't have the time or imagination to run your own campaign, it's possible to outsource the job. Natural skincare business Made4Baby hired a part-timer to manage its facebook page. Made4Baby owner Rebecca McLeod found it hard to think up new and engaging topics week after week. In three months followers grew from 700 to 1900 translating into online sales growth.
• Define your purpose and goals
• Respect others
• Don't over promote
• Follow others
• Send clear messages
• Schedule time for social media marketing
• Be knowledgeable
• Be a trustworthy source of information
• Ask questions. Seek others' opinions about your business.
• Pay attention to visual branding
• Be prepared to spend time responding to queries
• Ensure you have mobile access to social media websites.