Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Starting Line

As a social media professional – the one thing I have continually struggled with is blogging. There does not seem to be enough hours in the day.  I cannot seem to get the words on the paper and it is not for lack of things to say ! 

I have come to the realization that one of the stumbling blocks of my blog might be its purpose. Social media is so big, has so many directions and changes daily. What to write about – where to start. The mission of Simmons Social Media is to help small businesses. I accomplish this in many ways – consulting, social media management, content creation and keeping myself and clients up on all the latest and greatest from social media. So I am narrowing down the purpose of my blog. I am going to start with the basics of social media and incorporate any and all relevant changes and of course fun – this blog will always be fun.
So let’s start navigating the social waters together and hope we do not fall in without a life jacket !

Where do you start? There are so many social media sites – where do you begin. You will want to be on the main social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ and then there are the niche social media sites. The niche social media sites are different for various businesses and it will not take you long to realize which sites work the best for you. For example, if you are a restaurant- you will want to be on Foursquare, Yelp, TripAdvisor to name a few travel and review sites.  I believe you should secure your business’s name on as many sites as you can. You do not need to engage on all these sites but it is a good idea to make sure you create an account and secure your business name before someone else does.

When setting up your accounts, you want to make sure all your information is consistent across the board and try to use the same pictures – profile and cover on all the sites. The actual setting up the accounts will seem time consuming but once you have created your accounts – it is time to have fun, start being social and engage with your audience.

Remember social media is just that – social – have fun !!  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Marriage of a Small Business and Social Media

The Marriage of a Small business and Social Media

I am in love with social media – I am social, love the constant flow of information and the need to stay on my toes with the constant (almost daily) changes. I also understand not everyone gets the same joy out of social media and does not want to make this committment. Enter the social media managers – strategists – directors – consultants. Social media is not going anywhere – it is growing and changing and will continue to do so for a very long time. So you might want to think about ring shopping for social media.

My biggest goal as a social media consultant is helping the small business owner to overcome their fear of social media and actually enjoy this fantastic phenomenon. I think one of the biggest challenges for small businesses is the constant changes in social media. Social media changes on a daily basis and you must keep up with these changes because they are usually aimed at making the social media experience an easier and better one. Social media is no longer viewed as a trendy or passing fad, having a flexible and well managed presence on social media is a must. Social media has the ability to reach so many people and businesses so quickly that you want to do it right.

There are so many social media sites -you must decide what social media sites you need and want to be on – you do not need to, want to or could be on every site. You want to be on the top social media sites - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn and a few niche social media sites that will work for your business.

 Picture Your Streetᵀᴹ is a small business which locates and photographs authentic street signs that feature first names – www.facebook.com/PictureYourStreet. “Social Media helps a small business like ours to keep abreast of industry trends, find distribution opportunities and to interact with customers. We see social media as an integral part of our marketing efforts and are constantly looking for ways to engage and translate leads into sales.” They are able to engage on many different levels of social media and make each work for them.
Heather Larkin, a Thirty-One consultant points out that social media is a multi-tasker’s dream and where she gets the most for her marketing buck. “The reality is, all of my business thus far, has been generated via Facebook. I announced the start of my business, held an online start up open house, booked over 10 parties (all FB events) and ultimately, generated over $3k in sales all through the use of Facebook. Going and growing forward, I hope to better understand and utilize other forms of social media in order to reach even more potential customers. “ www.mythirtyone.com/hlarkin

Small businesses want to engage the top social media sites but may find that the majority of their efforts are concentrated on one social media site. "As a small bagel/sandwich shop we use our Facebook fan page on a daily basis.  It allows us to reach out to our fans and keep them up to date on our feature bagels, cream cheese or pastries. We also use it to advertise any new specials or holiday themed features (like pink bagels for Valentine's Day!).  We also use it to offer food combination ideas for those that like to try something new.  Most of all, we love the personal interaction with our customers and all of the positive feedback." Erryn Wilson, owner of Best Bagels in Town – Vestal  - www.facebook.com/Best-Bagels-in-Town/136746083020995

So think of social media as a courtship. You take time to get to know the various social media sites that are pertinent to you – then you begin to engage on these sites and finally you marry (connect) these sites together so you have a consistent message of your small business and brand.

And finally, remember that marriage is all about changes and how you deal with these changes. Social media changes constantly and these changes will usually deal with features that help you to save time or improve your ability to highlight your small business with social media. Social media is just that – social – so have fun with it.