Social Media Marketing Tip For A Small Business

Some of you may remember that this summer I held some live presentations on social media marketing locally. I’ve been to a lot of presentations, and I’ve conducted a lot of presentations, and I want to talk about this for a quick minute.

One thing I have against some presentations is that when they’re over you’re sitting there wondering if you actually learned something you can use. This seems to happen often, unfortunately. I remember going to a sales presentation in the spring where I knew the guy who was giving the presentation. I had heard him present for 30 minutes one time and I loved hearing him talk. So I had high hopes, since this presentation was going to be for about 4 hours or so, including breaks.

What a major disappointment. The headlines said we were going to learn sales techniques we could use in our business; as a matter of fact, 5 of them. Instead, it was a presentation on sales motivation and 5 reasons why we needed to get over our reticence to sell. Now, if that had been the topic, or what the description of the program was, then I wouldn’t have minded so much. But that’s not what I was expecting, nor was anyone else. So, it fell flat, even though I still enjoyed hearing the guy talk at times.

Forward to me. When I gave my social media presentation this summer, I gave tips on how small businesses could actually use some of the social media things I was talking about. Sure, I spent some time on building up what social media was, and talking about success stories. I had to do that because I knew some people had no real clue what social media was all about and were hoping to learn something about it. So, I had the presentation scripted, and you can see my description of the outline of my presentation if you’re up for it.

Anyway, forward to the main topic of this post. This is a legitimate tip that a small business can use as it applies to social media. Here’s the caveat; it’s mainly for brick and mortar businesses. For instance, if you owned a pizza or coffee shop, this is a great tip. However, there might be some online businesses who can think of a way to use this tip to their advantage also.

Whether you’re a new or existing business, you can start generating some business by starting with two things; creating an account on Twitter and creating an account on Four Square. For those who don’t know, Four Square is a location-based site where people get to tell their friends where they are via an online service. It’s where Facebook and Twitter got the idea from. The people who created Four Square actually studied locally at Syracuse University, so it’s very popular here, and it’s actually a test market for lots of things.

Back to the tip. You register your business on Four Square because it gives you the opportunity to set up specials through the site so that if people come to your location and go online to indicate to others they’re at your location, they can earn prizes or specials that you’re going to offer them. You can have small prizes for first time visitors, such as 50% off a drink, and bigger prizes for people who become “mayors” of your location, which means you’re a frequent flyer. The thing is, people would only earn these things if they went onto Four Square and mentioned you, and they’d see the offers through the site.

Now, you have a Twitter account for many reasons. One, as a business you can mention that you’re registered on Four Square and offer special deals for visitors. If you get followers, you might have your messages retweeted multiple times, which is a great way to gain both customers and publicity. And young people especially are drawn to businesses that show they’re somewhat tech savvy.

This works very well, by the way. It was actually proven by a local small vegan restaurant/coffee shop. They did exactly these steps, and within 3 weeks or so they started seeing a higher influx of customers than most new businesses would. I mean, a vegan restaurant yet; not my cup or tea. Yet they do a thriving business, and their name is always being tweeted and retweeted locally. One thing they do that’s slightly different now is they give a discount to everyone who mentions them on Four Square while at the restaurant and proves it. They have enough business to cover that discount whenever they get it.

And there you go; a legitimate tip on how to get new customers to your business and keep them coming. Can you figure out a way to use this tip for your business if it’s not a brick and mortar? Maybe; if you do, please feel free to share with us. And don’t say I never tried to teach you anything! 😉

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33 thoughts on “Social Media Marketing Tip For A Small Business”

  1. Mitch, I had never heard of Four Square, but I just went to the site and will definitely check it out some more. I assume there isn’t currently an alternative for online businesses, or you would have mentioned it. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Social marketing have become mandatory part of marketing strategy for every business, but depending on the niche results may vary. For some businesses it is working like a miracle and for other does not. About a year ago I was working for villa rental company and conversion from tweeter, Facebook, Youtube and Myspace was 0, but on the other hand it was a great way to announce latest deals. I can say something similar regarding online clothing shops and industrial niche, however it have been very useful for health related, other social media and match making websites.

    1. Carl, I could see why some of those things might not work as well. Companies have to be somewhere, but what would they talk about when it came to a villa rental company? Sure, putting them on Twitter gives them the opportunity to send out specials and the like, but who are they going to actually ever talk to? That’s one of the problems with some businesses getting into social media; they forget about the “social” part.

      1. I mean it doesn’t really work in terms of conversion. Lets say, that it is something pretty expensive – to book 5 bedroom villa which cost $500 a day and the flights for whole family is about $10,000 and you want to stay for a week on a location which is usually visited by singles. I tested all possible networks for nearly 2 years. Until I find that the best one was Youtube – many visitors, good conversion. Technically every niche have a places where things convert better than the others and there are some that does not convert at all. So the recipe is to concentrate on those that can bring extra business and reduce efforts on the others.

      2. I knew what you meant, Carl. It’s like you said, some social media outlets won’t work for all businesses. Showing a party atmosphere in a video, however; smart!

  3. Like Charles, I’ve never heard of Four Square either but I am definitely going to look into it as well. How well do you think it might work for authors or for people who offer services but don’t have an “office” perse?

    1. Bev, to you and Charles, Four Square is location-based, and what happens is when people check in there’s a map of the business location for others to track. I’m not sure either of you would want that happening all the time, plus I’m not sure it would work the same way. Charles, I’m also not so sure it works in Canada; you’d have to tell me if it does.For both of you, I think other options would have to be researched.

  4. Yep I’m another one! I hadn’t heard of foursquare either! I will definitely be looking into that! I have an offline friend that could really benefit from this so next time I am giving her some consulting I will be sure to show it to her. I guess that means I need to look at it as well then.

    Thanks for letting us know about it!


    1. No problem, Simon; glad to help out. Of course, Facebook & Twitter knew about it, which is why they jumped on the location-based stuff.

  5. I have heard of it, but hadn’t yet looked into it.

    I’ll hop right over.

    1. Cool Carolee. It might not work for you, but it’s something you should know about, especially since it was developed by a SU grad.

  6. What people really miss is practical examples of the uses of social media in their niche of business. Practical tips for practical people, that’s why I believe your approach is a really powerful one.

    1. Thanks Gabriele. You’re right, deciding how you’re going to use whichever social media outlet you choose is a big deal for business, but not such a big deal if all one wants to do is have fun. Nothing wrong with fun, though. 😉

  7. Hi Mitch

    I wondered what FourSquare was. Seen it mentioned a few times on Twitter.

    Will go check it out. Wonder if it is popular here in Oz. will have to go see and thanks for sharing about it.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    1. You’ll have to let me know, Pat. It’s probably not overly popular there yet, but I’m wondering if it can be used there at least.

  8. It’s an interesting thought, Dennis, but those doing roaming parties would have to think “does my customer mind me putting their address online for everyone to see”?

  9. Thanks for this tip, Mitch. I, for one, am taking advantage of Foursquare right at the moment. However, in another blog I visit, Foursquare got mixed reviews.

    Just like in Facebook and Twitter, people were using this location-based network to tell others where they are and what they are doing at the moment. Their personal use of the network have been to their disadvantage because they got stalkers and what not disturbing their peace. So, the question was whether to still continue using Foursquare or not…

    Foursquare, like any other social media tool, is good when used the proper way for your business. However, it may not work out well if you want to protect your privacy and yet you post exactly where you are and what you are doing every time.

    – Wes –

    1. Good stuff, Wes, and I guess you’re proof that it works in Australia as well. The thing is that people can actually use it multiple ways for business, and that’s the smart thing to do. Individuals who decide to use it can limit it to certain groups of people instead of broadcasting it everywhere, although it seems the younger the person the more they want everyone to know.

      1. It’s not just the young people, Mitch. There are also adults who are now lamenting on why they started using Foursquare in the first place. I always say that if you want to protect your privacy, that is your choice and it will also be your doing of this privacy is breached. This is especially if you are fond of broadcasting all your movements. It is not the fault of the social network.

        Anyway, Foursquare is really cool for business purposes and I am glad that you pointed this out.

        – Wes –

      2. Actually Wes, I was saying that young people love using it and telling everyone where they are. The local crowd I’m hooked up with is fairly young, and they’re using it often. Then again, as I said to someone else, many of them have ties to Syracuse University, and the guy who created it graduated from here, and has some special deal going with people who went there and are there now.

        As for the privacy issue, it’s the same with Facebook; everyone has to be careful what they’re putting out.

  10. Outstanding tip, Mitch! The real power of social media is in using the tools in innovative ways to exploit opportunities for increased awareness and visibility. Twitter by itself may have questionable use for many but when used to promote other social media like Foursquare in your brick and mortal example or to direct folks to a LinkedIn profile or Facebook events page, you can really begin to capitalize on these “new” technologies in really meaningful, measurable ways.

    1. Thanks Iceman. I’m sure you’ll come up with new ways to use social media for marketing purposes as well for 2011.

  11. I actually joined up to Foursquare but haven’t really used the yet, basically because I don’t use my phone to connect to the internet, I do enough of that while at home, and so as far as they’re concerned I’m always home.

    Originally when joining I thought I would be able to use it to promote my blogs and I admit I was a little disappointed to find it was really meant for real life business. I can see the advantage for them but unfortunately I’m still to find anything in it for me.

    1. It’s funny that you joined, Sire, because I never had any intention of signing up and I haven’t. I knew I wasn’t signing my business up with it, and since I don’t have one of those phones I’d never be able to sign in at a location anyway.

    1. Make sure you really check it out to see if it’s for you, Kimi. It’s really not for everyone, at least not yet.

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