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BizReport : Social Marketing : December 24, 2010

Top 3 social marketing tips

Heading into the New Year businesses of all sizes are looking hard at social media. They are looking for resources to fund social media campaigns, and they are looking for new hires to lead social endeavors. For small businesses, this outlay of cash isn't available and so many are foregoing social strategies. A mistake, according to RatePoint's Neal Creighton.

by Kristina Knight

ratepoint.gifWhat can a small business do to get into social without handing over thousands of dollars they don't have? Just join the conversation.

"The great thing about social media is that it allows for actual dialogue," said Neal Creighton, Co-Founder and CEO of RatePoint. "[SMBs] need to hear from customers what they want, so ask for feedback. Ask what customers want in the social space and then integrate actual messaging from there. If [businesses] are already using email marketing, use those tools to immediately integrate email messages in the social space."

For more on the need for social marketing, read Part I of BizReport's chat with Creighton here.

RatePoint's recent study found that many small businesses are unsure what the social environment holds for them and this is why they're staying away. For more on the study, click here. Unfortunately, fear of social media won't make the trend toward social networking go away, so SMBs need to get familiar with the space in a hurry. Here are Creighton's top three tips for getting involved in social media.

First, establish social media accounts with Twitter and Facebook.

Second, be sincere about asking for and using feedback. Ask your customers what they want from a social business and follow their wants and needs.

Once you've polled your customer base about the type of information they want in a social setting, it's time to begin that all-important first campaign. But, no matter what consumers say they want, Creighton advises to keep your social marketing approach on the soft-sell side.

"I don't think you ever need a hard sell in social media," said Creighton. "I think it's more of a credibility area and it will be expected for businesses to be in the space very soon. If the customers are asking for recommendations or reviews, give them what they want and don't add 'extras' like hard-sell statements. The more you respond to customers, they more they will appreciate your brand and your message. Just be straightforward and honest and see what happens."

Third, use all of the tools at your disposal. "Link email, advertising and reviews to the social media accounts," advises Creighton. "There are some really powerful tools to use with your social media circle. [SMBs] can create content and make it easy for consumers to find brands and become brand advocates."

Don't forget the reviews, either. More and more consumers are looking for product reviews and rankings before buying. So, include them on your website and link those to your social profiles.

Tags: Neal Creighton, RatePoint, SMB advertising, social marketing, social media, social networks

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  • Now, this might sound a little weird but there are people who would rather NOT hire a public relations firm. It is pretty easy to understand why. A PR firm will just call, contact or email people in publications that you are already aware of, shows that are familiar with or sites that you and a million others have surfed.
    Most business owners welcome a call or email from other business owners instead of a PR representative. Thus, if you want to establish a relationship with other companies, present yourself to gain new partners or just simply to introduce yourself around the industry, make yourself available and answer all the questions they might throw at you.
    Be your own PR! Nobody can sell your business, your product or your personality best other than your own self. Of course, take the time to build a good pitch! Avoid being over confident and do not sound too cocky as nobody likes this type of people. If they find the rapport with you as something that will benefit their company, then they will most likely connect with you!

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