The (now) relatively popular hamburger chain Smashburger has grown from its three locations in Denver, Colorado in 2007 to its current 150 burger-serving joints across the nation, including three in the Phoenix area. Its secret sauce? It’s not in the burger, it’s small business social media.
Smashburger has used small business social media strategies to offer coupons and trivia contests to its, 67,000+ Facebook followers, replies to questions and complaints on their Twitter and Facebook profiles and uses blogger outreach to contact bloggers who might write about the newest Smashburger restaurants opening in their area.
“The brand was really built on social media and PR strategies,” says Jeremy Morgan, senior vice president of marketing and consumer insights for Smashburger. “Social media is an opportunity for us to engage with consumers and have a conversation, which is different than paid media, when you’re just shouting through a bullhorn.”
Small business social media can help growing businesses gain brand awareness, improve customer relations and garner market research and improve sales. It has become essential for the smallest of companies to dive into social media to reap the SEO benefits from social media and connect with their customers in an open and inviting forum.
“Everybody should take a look at it,” says Dan Galbraith, owner of marketing support company Solutionist and a National Small Business Association board member.
“Whether they chose to jump into social media or not is a question that only they can answer,” he says, but all firms should at least explore how social media could work for them.
It just takes a few clicks to potentiality connect with thousands of business contacts and customers, he says. In addition to networking, business owners can use social media to glean useful insights by reading comments made by customers, industry experts, even competitors.
“The common misconception about social media is that it’s free,” says Morgan. “Facebook and Twitter accounts are free, but for small-business owners in particular, time comes at a premium.”
To avoid feeling overwhelmed with social media and committing the greatest social media cardinal sin of them all – having a poorly executed social media plan, it’s best to seek professional social media help. While marketing experts advocate joining the social media conversation, most say that doing it poorly — such as combining personal and professional updates or not posting information consistently — is worse than not doing it at all.
Either way, small business owners should set tangible goals. For example, a local business owner might want to increase traffic to his store by 25% by offering coupons via Facebook or re-connect with former customers and establish solid relationships with them to draw them back in.
The goals should be clear, concise, easily measurable and have an end date. However, as most business owners know, initial strategies often need to change. Consistency counts and you can start to grow your business by one Tweet at a time.