“You can have 10,000 new Twitter followers in 3 days. Ask me how. I can help you.”
– Random Twitter Account
For the large majority of small business owners, one of the key challenges is awareness. If potential customers do not know about you then how can they buy from you?
As social media rose in popularity over the last few years it seemed like the Internet was poised to deliver on the great equalization we had hoped for – a platform that favors the big guy no more than it favors the little guy. Finally! We all had an equal voice and could thank the likes of Twitter and Facebook for delivering on this promise. Well, not quite.
The large brands that existed before the rise of social media figured out the platforms with the rest of us and eventually became pretty efficient at using them. How can you, as a local coffee shop, compete with the 33 million Likes and 3 million Followers that Starbucks has on Facebook and Twitter, respectively? Simply put, you can’t compete. Not by the numbers anyway. But if that is your frame of reference then I can tell you, like Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom, “You’re doing it wrong.”
It’s not about the math. It’s not about trying to get to 33 million Likes on Facebook. The key lies in the opportunity before us, as small business owners, to connect with our real audience. You know, those customers that visit you every week and believe in your product or service? Yeah, them.
The wrong way to think about the effectiveness of your social media activities is best demonstrated by the way a small child approaches money. If I give a child the choice between two pennies and one quarter, most of the time they will pick two pennies. By way of volume, 2 is more than 1 and small children do not see the penny for what it is worth (not even its weight in copper) compared to the quarter. In this respect they have fallen into the same trap that we do when chasing numbers in the social media space.
Put another way, would you rather have 100,000 Followers on Twitter who barely know about the existence of your business or 1,000 RABID fans? Yeah, I thought so. On a side note, if you would rather have 100,000 random followers then I can hook you up for a very “reasonable” price. Just come see me after class.
Do me a favor. After you read this article, go to Facebook or Twitter and find one of your customers. I don’t care which one. Thank them! Thank them for buying from you. Thank them because you know they have a choice. Do that once a week. Forever. After that, why not ask them what you could do to be even better next time? It doesn’t take 33 million Likes on Facebook and it doesn’t take a lot of time either.
You see, the great equalizer we had hoped for on the Internet is here and it’s called the personal touch. It doesn’t have anything to do with the number of Followers you have on Twitter or Likes on Facebook. It has everything to do with your ability to connect at an emotional level with your customers. This is your biggest competitive advantage as a small business owner in the social media space and no one can take that away from you.
About Greg Tirico
Greg Tirico is Senior Social Media Manager for Sage North America – providers of business management software and services to over 3 million small and mid-sized businesses in North America. In this role, Tirico stays current with social media trends and works across the Sage Business Units to help set strategy and success metrics for social media marketing programs. Greg can be found through his blog (www.tirico.net), on Twitter (@gregt12), and LinkedIn.