Knowing that it’s a great idea, and that with 500 million active users and counting, it’s where your audience most likely is. Twitter has over 190 million users Tweeting 65 million times a day.
Boosted by these numbers, knowing that odds are some of them are going to find their way back to your website, you set up an account with Twitter for your business and a fan page on Facebook.
Well, if you read even a little, you’ll get bombarded with advice that you can’t afford to overlook StumbleUpon, Digg, Squidoo, and oh! You’re a business owner and you’re not on LinkedIn? What?
All those tools and applications and websites are collectively called “social media.” There are tons of communities, and you soon realize you simply can’t use them all.
This is where most business owners give up, and they disappear from Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and all the rest, and then shake their heads when anyone tries to mention “social media” ever again.
It can be confusing, and if you try to make a go of everything at once –which for some reason is the most common advice– you’ll end up going nowhere fast.
That is why I went to the experts: I interviewed several small business owners who had utilized social media with great effect and fantastic results, and asked them what their secrets were. I had begun with the intention of writing a single article, but what those business owners taught me was that there was just so many possibilities and creativity that, even just using a few basic social media venues –like Facebook and Twitter– they created massive results.
So in this social media series, I’ll show you a few small businesses which, using only a few tools, created massive results for their business.
For example, Goosie Girl from Goosie Girl Boutique even increased her order load by 300%! This meant she went from a one-woman show to needing five employees just to help her fill the orders coming in.
The first person I interviewed was Lindsey with Evil Controllers.com, a small company in Tempe, AZ which customizes gaming controllers for Xbox and PS3 systems. They handle many different areas of controller design from hardware mods for function and ease of use, to more aesthetic aspects. This is a really great niche for the members of the gaming community with disabilities or impairments which make using the two-handed controller difficult or impossible.
They’ve even “modded” one controller called a “6 Switch” for one of their customers, “Nomad,” who is a quadriplegic. He plays his games using his chin, cheek, and mouth. This is made possible by Evil Controllers.
Which venues of social media do you use, and what would you consider your most powerful methods of utilizing them?
Well, we use Facebook and Twitter, and we utilize HootSuite to manage everything. We have one person dedicated to nothing but Facebook at all times. She answers every message we receive, whether it’s a question, comment, or just mentions us. We do it because it’s fun, and it gives us a voice. It’s the most personal way to connect with people.
We’re not corporate or sales-y at all; our tone is always casual, like talking with a friend. And that’s what we found. People who are using social media are there to connect with their friends.
Do you have other tools you use, or methods for getting your name out there besides the traditional ads?
We have a blog, too. And lots of times we won’t even post about Evil Controllers; we’ll post about other topics our customers are into. One of our posts recently was just, “Happy Groundhog’s Day, everyone!” So it’s more about being a friend and connecting on a personal level than about marketing to them or trying to make a sale right then.
What are some of the lessons you learned regarding social media?
Everything is right there if you know how to look for it. We recently ran a search on Twitter using keywords that were important to us, just to see what people were saying. This way, we were able to see questions people had, too. For example, for Valentine’s Day, one person was wondering what to get his girlfriend, and used keywords that had to do with our product. So one member of our team sent him a message recommending one of our products, and Tweeted that out to everyone. It works all the time!
In looking up Evil Controllers further, I found they were also big fans of using video as a tool to engage their customers. They recently had a contest, recorded the drawing and posted it on their site. It was a partnered contest with another company, so both sites were able to share their exposure by networking.
And isn’t that what social media’s all about? Networking?
Heather with Goosie Girl Boutique, a craft shop for photography props, costumes, tutus, and boutique accessories, links her pages on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter via Networked Blogs, a web-based application which integrates your accounts so when you make a post to your blog, it automatically posts to your Facebook and Twitter feeds with no extra work from you.
How do you use social media for your business?
I share news about upcoming sales, promotions & specials with my fans, but I do much more~ I really try to build a “warm” and “friendly” environment among my followers, I’m very authentic and share music I’m listening to, poetry and quotes that inspire me, business tips, etc.
Occasionally I will host a “flash sale” utilizing a photo album, and post photos of items which are ready to ship and on sale, I tell followers to post a comment and their Paypal address if they’d like to purchase it and many times the items sell within minutes!
What’s the biggest thing you have learned by using social media?
I have learned to comment back when people compliment my status updates on Facebook, the interaction between the business owner and potential customers whom like your page really helps to build the personal relationship. I try to make it as personal as I can, and try to share news & announcements about exciting things that are happening as my business experiences steady growth.
Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular social media venues for a reason; they give your business high visibility, the largest audience available, and the most opportunity for connecting with your audience on a personal level. Every single interview had one thing in common: they connected with their customers not as customers, but as people. They responded to every message and Tweet they received; they gave shout-outs to users in their videos; they actively sought out people to answer their questions and solve their problems. It never took more than a few moments to do this. Some companies outsource a social media person and that’s their dedicated job, while others devote maybe ten minutes three times a day.
It doesn’t have to take forever. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s not rocket science.
It’s social science.