Man, sometimes using social media for small business promotion can be frustrating!
In my two most recent ProBlogger guest posts I discussed, How to Go Beyond Your Small Business Blog and Create a Social Media Footprint and 10 Tips for Blogging Your Way to Small Business Success.
But you should know, I was not always a proponent of blogging or social media.
As a small business owner I completely understand your aggravation, and perhaps disappointment, with blogging.
In fact, a couple of years ago I was right there with you.
To be sure, when I pursued my dream and opened a small business in the Caribbean I lacked any semblance of a marketing plan, so I thought I would do what everyone else was doing, and turn to the Internet.
I had heard about the power of blogging and social media and using them as tools to help promote small business. Sadly, perhaps like you or someone you know, I envisioned that I would put up a few blog posts and offer some tips in forums and customers would come rushing.
In fact, for the first few months that I owned my business I thought I was doing everything right, such as, posting helpful information to my blog, visiting forums that were relevant to my niche, and even sneaking in a little bit of reputation management.
However, after about six months (what I thought was a long time) of consistent effort I felt like the return on my time and effort was just not happening.
In essence, I was done with social media and blogging!!
My Social Media Awakening
On the very day I told my wife that I was finished with this blogging, FLICKR, and YouTube stuff I found an email in my inbox that would change the course of my small business and my view towards social media forever. (I am not making this up for poetic license.)
Serendipitously, on the very same day that I was supposedly done with blogging forever, I received an email from a writer for Islands Magazine and she wanted to feature the story of.
What was so amazing you ask?
In my opinion, my initial social media and blogging efforts had finally paid off. The writer had found my business from video that I had uploaded to YouTube and then posted as part of a story on my small niche blog.
Unfortunately, I am not sure what the exact search term was that the writer used, but four key results from my initial blogging and social media goals had happened:
- While seeking some video the writer discovered my niche blog through a Google search.
- The niche blog led the writer to my small business website.
- From the website the writer learned about my story.
- The writer contacted me for the feature.
Or, stated more simply:
One $100 FLIP Camera + Niche Blog Post = $20,000 plus of FREE publicity
You have to understand, I had NO advertising budget for my business and along comes this amazing $20,000 marketing opportunity at no cost. Even better, the Islands Magazine article has led to numerous other (free) publicity opportunities for my small business, including a quarter page write up in Conde Nast Travel and mentions on various travel websites.
Yes, it was then that I became a TRUE blogging and social media convert!
Major Lessons Learned
The above experience taught me many lessons about using blogging and social media for small business marketing. The following are but a few:
- Goals – Set your goals early. My primary reason for having a niche blog and posting video, photos, and text was to ensure that I had a presence that ranked well in Google so that potential customers (and magazine writers) could find me.
- Consistent – Be patient and consistent in your small business blogging efforts. I know sometimes it is awfully hard not to compare what you are doing to others, but stay focused and committed.
- Measurement – Find out which blog posts and social media sites provide the best return for your time and effort. (When you first get started this is mostly done through trial and error.) Also, don’t look at number of visitors to your blog, look at WHO is visiting your blog and how they are finding you.
- Results – The truth of the matter is, we are all still at the infancy stage when it comes to using social media, and perhaps to a lesser extent blogging, for small business marketing. You just never know when the hard work that you are doing on a daily basis now might pay off later!
Strangely enough, with thanks to a FLIP camera and a blog post, some interesting intangibles have also arisen from the Islands Magazine article.
- The Islands Magazine article set me up as an expert in pursuing the dream of moving to the Caribbean and opening a business. On a weekly basis I receive emails from people who are seeking assistance with trying to do what I have done. Not only do I enjoy helping them, but it’s a great way to keep my business in their thoughts.
- Islands Magazine gave me a powerful backlink. According to Matt Cutts, and the most recent WordCamp talk he gave Straight from Google – What You Need to Know, when it comes to search rankings and the power of backlinks, the Google algorithm is affected by the authority and the relevancy of the site that is linking to you. Thus, a travel magazine with a PR5 linking to my travel related business site, provides me with a solid link and some added Google juice.
- Almost a year on and the Islands Magazine article is still consistently the number two or three referring site for my business, and with the current economic downturn any extra website traffic is always welcome.
As a final takeaway message, I would just like to say that even if you do not have the subscriber count of Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, or Chris Brogan … DONîT GIVE UP! Your small business blogging and social media efforts will pay off.
Mark Hayward lives in the and built up a clientele for his small business using nothing but social media. He tries to help beginners make sense of social media and how they can use it for business promotion. You can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.