7 Ways to Get More From Social Media in 2010

The numbers show that companies will invest more resources into social media in 2010 as a way to market themselves and find new customers. And that trend won’t exclude small business owners. SMB owners who have previously ignored the medium completely will find themselves entering the fold. And those with history in social media will be looking for new ways to increase value.

With that in mind, below are some lessons that I’ve picked up to help small- and medium-sized business owners navigate and get more from the social media waters.

Don’t go in thinking about ROI: The Internet has always been about accountability. It gives business owners the ability to use tools to track everything from conversions to clicks to eyeballs and even patterns of behavior. And you can track social media ROI the very same way. However, don’t jump in focused only on the numbers. Give social media time to prove itself before you start obsessively refreshing your analytics. Even the most basic social media goals (build brand awareness, increase traffic, etc) will take a bit of time to develop. If you go in eyes staring at the numbers before you even developed a following or community you’re going to be disappointed. However, the ROI is there and the average social media campaign needs at least two months to show measurable results.

Focus on the actions that matter: It’s really easy to get lost in the quest to increase Twitter followers, build blog subscribers and get everyone and their brother to become friends with your Facebook Fan page. But what are those numbers getting you? If it’s not people who are engaged with your company and folks who want to interact with you, then you’re chasing numbers that don’t matter. Instead, focus on the actions that will provide these things naturally, but also add value to your community. Concentrate on creating great content, on helping others find resources located on different sites, on forming connections by reaching out to people, and by listening more than you speak. If you take the proper steps now, the right kind of followers will come later.

Schedule time for it: You have a business to run. You can’t spend your entire day in social media. I get that and so does your community. However, do make a point to schedule in time when you can interact so that customers can trust your presence on certain sites. Put yourself on a plan for engaging. For example, perhaps you know that in a week you want to write two blog posts, spend 45 minutes commenting on community blogs, three hours on Twitter reaching out, and an hour on Facebook responding to wall messages. Schedule that into your week so that you know it’s going to get done. Make Monday your blog writing day or Tuesday the day you do the bulk of your Twittering. Planning for social media is really important and makes it far more manageable.

Seek out local prospects: We’re always talking about how big brands are using social media that we often forget how effective social media is for targeting the people in your own backyard. For example, Advanced Twitter Search will allow you to find the conversations based on location. Twellow and Twitter Grader allow you to find people in your area who share your interests. This is where social media becomes powerful – when it intersects with local. Seek out these opportunities to find real customers who are talking about or show a need for what your business does. If you’re a caterer and someone’s talking about their wedding, hop into that conversation (as a friend, not a business) and offer to help. If you’re a local mechanic, find people talking about their bad brakes or the car troubles they’re having and chime in. The opportunities to connect locally through social media are there if you’re listening for them. Start.

Look outside Twitter the box: 2009 was Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. And there’s good reason for that – lots of people are on Twitter, but that doesn’t mean your customers are. Reevaluate where your customers are hanging out this year. Are they on Twitter? Or are they hanging out elsewhere? For example, if you’re a local wedding planner, you may find that you get a lot more value creating a Flickr group to promote photos of the weddings you’ve shot or the area you live in. Chances are people looking for wedding vendors are searching for pictures and living resumes. Flickr gives you that in a way Twitter does not. Plus, by titling your photographs with the correct keywords, you give yourself a chance to show up in the SERPs when potential customers perform local queries. That’s value.

Learn from those before you: Whether it’s Frank Eliason from Comcast, Joe from the deli across the street or a teacher like Chris Brogan, seek out people who are doing social media well and watch what they’re doing. See how they’re talking to people, what actions they’re taking, how often they’re engaging, how they’re able to take online connections into the real world, etc. We’ve seen enough social media success stories that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to see what works and find a way to make it work for your company, as well.

Take it offline: My social Web moment of 2009 was about taking the personal relationships I’ve made online, off. Your business should look to do the same in 2010. Hold Tweetups to give your Twitter followers a way to meet one another in real life. Create an in-store event through Facebook to let people see you in your element and use mobile coupons. Create focus groups of your online fans to help with new product reviews or usability testing. The people engaging with you online want to become part of your brand. Help them to do that in real life.

Those are some ways I think SMB owners can get more out of social media in the coming year. What will you be doing?


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

24 Reactions
  1. Lisa: What’s SERP? How long time do you think it will take on average in order to see the impact of your social media activities? I think your last point is important. I am interested in continue my studies of the “third place” concept in more detail and it would be fun to attend an “unconference” as Mitch Joel is talking about in his book, Six Pixels of Separation.

  2. Martin: Ah, dumb SEO lingo, sorry. SERP = search engine results page.

    I agree. I think the combination of going after local leads and then finding ways to take them offline and make people actually *do* something is really the heart and soul behind social media for small business owners. I’d love to see more of those “unconferences” and local tweetups start taking place around businesses. There’s a huge amount of value there.

  3. Jason @ forty2fifty.com

    Lisa… Very good points you make here in this article. Twitter is huge and everybody should be utilizing it, facebook and the other big guns of social media.

    However, I’m going to focus my first quarter on using the smaller upcoming players in social media. I think they have a lot to offer.

  4. Social media much more closely parallels real-life networking, which means you CAN measure it by how many business cards you get or how many people you spoke with, but really it will take more time for those relationships can really flower. Sometimes is may even take months. The key is to stick with it.

  5. Thanks for these great suggestions!

    Finding and engaging on a local level via online (social media) and offline is a powerful one-two punch a small, local business owner can do to improve their marketing. I suspect we’ll see more and more case studies that feature this strategy and tactics in 2010.

    Also think having a well-defined market persona (buyer profile)should guide activities:

    Local business owners/marketers should also focus on their business persona – the attributes and assets that makes for effective engagement with their buyer persona.

  6. Lisa,

    Thank you! I think the points that resonated with me most is focus on the actions that matter.

    If one focuses on the things that matter it will force him/her to be more strategic about what he/she is doing and why he/she is doing it. As one is becoming acclimated to social media, it is easy to become jack of all trades and master of none. We do everything half-hearted instead of mastering one or two things before we incorporate something else.

    Have a Happy New Year!

  7. There are really lots of things to watch for this coming year and it should be that unique enough to cater the touchy customers. There might be customers that have tried a lot of offers this year and might not be contented to still see them next year so Change is a way better option and this change shouldn’t be omitting all aspects but improving them all the way out. The way a product then can create that big magnet is finding those hidden secrets from the past, enhancing them and then reviving them can be a good shot in marketing and the social media.

  8. Lisa: Thanks for the lingo lesson! I appreciate your wealth of knowledge. By the way: How did it go with your podcast “bash” with John Jantsch?! 😉

    Do you know about any unconferences in NYC or some other major cities during 2010?

  9. Hi Lisa,

    Great article. One point that you did raise that I think should be highlighted more is that in all of these social media activities it is extremely important to listen more than you speak.

    Social Media is not about selling your products/services, but more about the relationships you build with those that could become great advocates of your business.

  10. Lisa,

    Thank you for giving me even more food for thought. Even though it’s harder and harder to get away from our computers, the in-person stuff really is the best.

    The Franchise King

  11. Lisa, I thought your post was great and included it in my review of a handful of social media experts’ predictions for the industry in 2010, FYI.


    All the best for 2010.

    Warm regards,

  12. Great thoughts Lisa. Thanks for sharing them.
    The pattern of offline and online working together is fascinating to me. I do believe that they can add so much to each other and really need to be thought of as a package. Its so easy to get locked into one or the other and miss the leveraged opportunity they represent together.

  13. Excellent post. I agree 100% with all your points, but the one that really hit home was the one about focussing on the actions that matter. It is much better to engage with people in a meaninful way and really speak to your target market then to do a little of everything and make no valued connections. This can be done in a number of ways, but one specific way is to make use of social networking technology that appeals to your target market.

  14. I absolutely love this post, thank you for sharing your insight. I especially love the tip “Seek out local prospects and offer HELP“ this is beneficial in so many areas.

    From the customer view point, business owners are helping customers solve their problems and they, the customer will be very appreciative of you the business owner genuinely trying to help. From the business owner view point, you would be seen as an expert in your field and listeners will turn to you for your advice when the need arises, referring you to their family and friend because you are known to them as “the expert“.

    I think businesses should try to give more of their expert advice to consumers to educate them first and foremost, building solid relationships. In 2010, Social Media, I think will transform the way business is done, according to Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) there will be more transparency among businesses and consumers and consumers will see the true value of businesses.

    Thanks again for the post

  15. Great list Lisa! Our company is using 2010 to really commit to our social media efforts. I completely agree about the need to schedule, if not you can find yourself meandering around the net for hours without getting anything accomplished. Thanks for the great tips!

  16. You can use stumbleupon, digg, reddit, technorati, twitter, linkedin, and twitter all together to help boost your traffic.

  17. Love the tip on advanced twitter search and searching by location… definitely going to try this!

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