With everything a small business owner has to contend with these days, it’s no wonder social media often takes a back seat. The thinking goes: Sure, it’s important, but promoting a business on social media isn’t going to have a dramatic impact on a bottom line.
Not so fast! Jason Guyer and Paul Marnecheck, two members of COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s membership development team would disagree with that line of thinking. Guyer and Marnecheck recently took time to answer some common questions entrepreneurs have about social media and also relate how they’ve used social channels to drive business.
Q: Talk about how you leverage social in your day-to-day at COSE/GCP?
Guyer: Social media in general is sometimes viewed by others as a time-waster in the workplace. I think that is a stale, outdated, and antiquated mindset on how social media can impact your business—assuming you use it the right way. I’d guess roughly 75% of all members that I’ve welcomed to our chamber or who are trying to decide if membership is right for them are all on social media in one form or another.
Day-to-day on Twitter, I’m always on the lookout for content I can share or retweet that might matter to those who follow me, whether it’s my own or content of those I follow. Anything I can do to help spread the word for our Northeast Ohio companies on Twitter—members or not—I’m happy to do it.
Similarly, LinkedIn is a great way to connect and put a face to a name for companies I am trying to engage with who may not be active on Twitter. If I am exchanging emails or phone calls with someone looking for more information on GCP or COSE, I always check to see if they have a LinkedIn profile so I can connect and engage with them that way.
Q: What networks are you most active on and does your strategy change based on the platform you’re using?
Marnecheck: I would say I am most active for work on Twitter and Linkedin. I use Linkedin more for background research while I use Twitter to help push content out. I agree that social media is a great way to remain current with our members and the business community. By creating lists in Twitter for instance, I am able to organize my feed in a productive way. Also, Linkedin allows me to see when a connection changes jobs, gains a new title, or reaches a professional milestone. It allows me to remain current quickly.
Q: What strategies work best as you try to encourage engagement from your followers?
Guyer: To me, the goal is to stay top of mind. Simple retweets and comments on whatever it is my followers and those I follow are putting out there shows them that A) you’re noticing their content and B) you care about what it is they have to say. People create these accounts to engage (ideally!), so why not go back and forth and strike up a social conversation?
Q: This question is probably highest on the mind of a small business owner: Have you been able to turn social into sales?
Marnecheck: YES! I have found one of the biggest factors in making a sale is timing. Linkedin & Twitter gives me a good sense of when things might have changed for the client and when the time could be right to approach, reapproach etc.
Q: What’s one thing a business development professional or small business owner should keep in mind about social media?
Guyer: If you’re using social media to ask your prospects to “marry you on the first date” then I think you’re utilizing these tools the wrong way. Do I use social media as a sales tool? Of course I do. However, rarely—if ever—do I ask someone to join via social media. To me, Twitter and LinkedIn serve as a way to establish and cultivate the relationship throughout the sales process. In today’s day and age where it’s easier to point and click than it is dial and answer the phone (thanks caller ID), social media is a way to bridge the gap in communication.
Marnecheck: ALWAYS have current content. One of the biggest red flags to me is when a business lists a social network site (especially Twitter) on their company website only to find the content on the site is outdated. Must always have fresh content.
Want to continue the conversation with Paul and Jason? Paul is on Twitter @marnecheck while Jason can be found @GCP_Jason.