Building Social Media Success. Gaining referrals and revenues in the digitized world

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1 Building Social Media Success Gaining referrals and revenues in the digitized world

2 INTRODUCTION: Marketing Where the Customer Talks Back Imagination is a powerful thing. Michael Chrisman of Bookbinders Workshop wants you to touch his fine leathers. Micha Foster of Sugaree s Bakery wants you to taste her delicious cakes. Both operate small businesses from a single location, but they have attracted customers from all over the United States who have never set foot in their establishments. Both businesses are also thriving in a still-tough economy. A bookbinder and a baker. What is their secret? Smart social media marketing strategies using Facebook programs and templates from Constant Contact. They did it without having any programming or other technical computer knowledge, and they did it for very little money; (see case studies for additional information). Most small businesses say they re using social media because everybody else is. If you ask small businesses their major marketing issue, it s I need more customers. The second answer is, I need customers to refer me. Social media is different from traditional marketing because the customer talks back to you, says Mark Schmulen, general manager of social media at Constant Contact. Most small businesses say they re using it because everybody else is. If you ask small businesses their major marketing issue, it s I need more customers. The second answer is, I need customers to refer me. Well, number two is the solution to number one the best source for new customers is word-of-mouth. Social media is just word-of-mouth digitized. Creating Word-of-Mouth This is nothing new, says Schmulen. Word-of-mouth and repeat customers have been around since the beginning of commerce. What is really new, he says, is that we have the ability to create that word-of-mouth. And social channels are helping us discover and share information like never before. Smart marketers today are figuring out how to harness that word of mouth and make it work for them, he says. For the first time in history, we aren t BUILDING SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS CONSTANT CONTACT

3 just hoping; we re inspiring and compelling people to talk to their friends through social channels. Glen Gilmore, an attorney who teaches social media in the mini-mba program at Rutgers University and is the author of Social Media Law for Business, agrees. Social media has great opportunity for small business, he says. Most small business owners are passionate about what they do, and social media is all about sharing your passion. Most small business owners are passionate about what they do, and social media is all about sharing your passion. Plan Your Social Media Campaign Facebook is your focus; that s where you will find everyone or, rather, where you will enable them to find you. But just putting up a page isn t enough. That s like having a brochure living in cyberspace. A study by SMB Group, a consulting firm in Northborough, Massachusetts, found that the percentage of small businesses using social media rose from 53 percent in 2011 to 58 percent in 2012, but that only 28 percent of them are using it strategically. Just being there is no longer enough. Today, you need a plan. Here are some elements worth considering: Put up valuable, interesting content. Whatever your business, show your expertise, the quality of your product or service, and that you can provide useful information that visitors won t find elsewhere. That includes high-quality photographs and even video. Social media gives you presentation opportunities not available in print use them. Small businesses often underestimate their ability to connect, says Gilmore. If you share good content about what you do, people will find you. For example, if you have a hardware store or appliance repair company, you might talk about steps homeowners can take in the spring to make sure everything is in good working order. That s something every homeowner wants to read, and it may get you new customers. BUILDING SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS CONSTANT CONTACT

4 Give visitors an incentive to respond. Include a coupon or other offer that entices the visitor to do business with you. That, in addition to the content you provide, increases the likelihood of response, of leaving a comment, and of passing your offer along to someone else. This is what Schmulen calls putting cheese in the trap. Your primary objective, he says, is to build an audience, and most small businesses start out with only a small group of fans and followers. First you get fans, he says. Then you turn fans into customers. Maybe it s a coupon; maybe it s a downloadable brochure. If it really resonates, they will share it with their friends. Whatever the incentive, it needs to be front and center. The mistake too many companies make, says Schmulen, is to ask visitors to do nothing, or to do too much. You want one very clear call to action per impression. Spread the word. Constant Contact s Social Campaigns tool lets you install it on your Facebook page. If you build it, and then tell everyone about it everywhere, they will come, says Schmulen. You need to leverage every communication channel that you have. A small business might have 200 contacts on Facebook but more than 2,000 on . Write to your contacts, and invite them to like you on Facebook. That, he explains, will build traffic and approximately 30 percent of people who participate in the offer share it with their friends. Stick to your timetable. Most social campaigns are set to run for 10 to 14 days, but the majority of responses are within the first 24 hours. Make sure you are ready to respond before the campaign turns on. Once it does, a delay can be costly. Learn your lessons. Now that everything is digitized, we can scale it and track it, says Schmulen. Marketing is a science; if you re not measuring, you re not marketing. Measure, and you can see how well you are meeting your goal. You need to leverage every communication channel that you have. A small business might have 200 contacts on Facebook but more than 2,000 on . Write to your contacts, and invite them to like you on Facebook. BUILDING SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS CONSTANT CONTACT

5 That includes responding to comments about your If you re a trusted source, product or service, not all of which may be positive. people will find you, says Claudia Townsend, an assistant professor of marketing Gilmore, and they will at the University of Miami s School of Business want to stay connected. Administration, says the two-way street of social media can have both positive and negative effects. As soon as You can make that happen you get customer input, they become part of the brand by continually refreshing narrative, she says. If someone has a bad experience, your page with new, they may post something on Facebook or elsewhere. useful content and But, she adds, post-consumption feedback, good or bad, additional offers. is still an opportunity. Marketers really need to listen and respond to what the customer is saying, she says. If you do that successfully, she notes, you can turn a negative into a positive, giving a valuable boost to your company s reputation. Stay connected. As your campaign goes along, you re going to get more new people to like you on Facebook, says Schmulen. Connecting with people is so powerful because you re getting permission to communicate with them, to reach them inside their box. This builds the power of your connection, he explains. is a great place to get your message read; social media is a great place to get it spread. Most important, you can t just run a social campaign once. Each time, you will learn more, and you will increase the success of the campaigns that come after it. If you re a trusted source, people will find you, says Gilmore, and they will want to stay connected. You can make that happen by continually refreshing your page with new, useful content and additional offers. You have to realize that you re not just sharing streams of information; you re creating opportunities for a conversation. Listening to comments or questions is important. They can provide data that will give you a competitive edge. Social media marketing is not just an experiment, says Schmulen. It s not a best practice for everybody out there. Constant Contact was the first tool to democratize marketing. I like to think that s what we re doing in social media: and running great campaigns that get really good results.. BUILDING SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS CONSTANT CONTACT

6 CASE STUDY: Sugaree s Bakery: Old-Fashioned Goodies, New Marketing Sugaree s Bakery, a New Albany, Mississippi-based purveyor of old-fashioned Southern layer cakes, is a small-batch operation that has developed a national customer base with thousands of contacts through social media. What s the secret recipe? Digital marketing is building our business, says Micha Foster, marketing manager of the company, which has 18 employees and a little more than $1 million in sales. When I took over marketing in January 2012, I wanted to expand our Facebook presence because I knew it could drive sales. Generating fans and likes Sugaree s was already using Constant Contact for its Mtarketing, so it was a simple matter to expand that relationship and develop an active social marketing program through Facebook. Foster began by launching Facebook ads for Sugaree s, which, she notes, are much less expensive than print ads. Then, inspired by Facebook couponing done by other companies, she ran a promotion using Constant Contact s Social Campaigns tool in February, April, and June that offered visitors 20 percent off their first online order. It was accompanied by mouth-watering photographs of the bakery s cakes. Foster s first order came in an hour after the campaign went live. In the first four days, Sugaree s netted more than 200 new fans; that number reached 600 by the end of the month. Then from August through December she ran a contest to win a free cake. The real winner was Sugaree s, with 745 new contacts and more than 300 comments from contest entrants. Now, with her market s appetite whetted, Foster doesn t have to give away cakes, and just a $10-off-shipping offer generates 1,400 likes. At least 50 percent of Sugaree s mail order business is gifts, providing significant word-of-mouth benefit and increasing the company s fan base and helping the number of contacts grow. In a year, the number of Facebook friends has grown from just over 2,000 to nearly 13,000. What really impresses Foster is the BUILDING SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS CONSTANT CONTACT

7 number of comments she receives about how much customers love the cakes. The most common request we get, she says with a laugh, is for us to open a store near where they live. CASE STUDY: Bookbinders Workshop: Material Success After 30 years of working as a bookbinder a cottage industry, literally, in which about 75 percent of the people in it work from their home Michael Chrisman realized that there was more money to be made selling materials to other bookbinders than in binding books himself. Moreover, the rise of social media has made it possible for him to do so in ways that are strategic yet simple, sophisticated yet inexpensive. Chrisman s company, Bookbinders Workshop, is located in Garden City, New York. With seven employees and annual sales of $400,000 to $500,000, it also operates two warehouses in Atlanta and Blue Hill, Maine. Customers for its exclusive lines of leathers, handmade papers, and supplies are looking for the best materials available. More than 50 percent of Chrisman s business is repeat orders, and word of mouth is critical in an industry so small. Getting the word out Chrisman learned that the key to growth was not how to tell his story but how to tell it to the most people possible. I launched a Facebook page in early 2012 and told my friends about it, he says. That got me up to 51 fans. I wasn t impressed. Then he discovered Constant Contact s Social Campaigns tool. Our education resources have always helped differentiate us from the competition, he says, so I wanted to promote that. He offered any customer who bought at least $300 worth of leather and supplies a free hardcover volume on bookbinding. Chrisman was already a Constant Contact Marketing customer, so he sent out an announcement about the campaign, but he also promoted it through Simple Share. Word spread, orders came in, and soon he had 600 new fans and $15,000 in new revenue. BUILDING SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS CONSTANT CONTACT

8 Today, he has nearly 7,000 fans on Facebook, and his business has spread beyond bookbinders to violin makers, shoe makers, furniture makers, jewelry box makers, and other crafts businesses. Constant Contact s 14-day calendar for social campaigns really works for me, says Chrisman. It shows me, step-by-step, how to engage my customers, how to keep the conversation going, how to follow up. Not everyone buys from us, but they may mention us, and in an industry as small as ours that s what you need. I visit my competition s websites at least once a week to see what they are doing and be sure that what I am offering is as good or better. So far, we re hitting that mark, and we re growing every quarter. Engage on a Deeper Level Constant Contact wrote the book on Engagement Marketing the new marketing success formula that helps small organizations create and grow customer relationships in today s socially connected world. Through its unique combination of online marketing tools and free personalized coaching, Constant Contact helps small businesses, associations, and nonprofits connect and engage with their next great customer, client, or member. Constant Contact s leading marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, local deals, digital storefronts, and online surveys supported by free KnowHow, personalized coaching, and award-winning product support can help any small business find new customers, drive repeat business, and generate referrals. Today, more than half a million customers worldwide trust Constant Contact to help them drive success. Learn more about how Constant Contact can help you maximize your online marketing efforts. Sign up for your free trail today! BUILDING SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS CONSTANT CONTACT

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