Small Business Tips: Focus On Engagement Rather Than Promotion

By Tony Restell

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With the mass adoption of social media, the small business owner’s marketing arsenal is broader than ever before. The number of tools and approaches available to attract customers has ballooned – as has the hyperbole about the most effective ways of attracting prospective customers!

Social Media for Small Business

Engage don't shout on social media!

What is increasingly clear is that some small business owners get Social Business – and others really don’t get it at all.

The good news is there is a simple litmus test you can take. Simply look at the current ways you are using social media in your marketing strategy and ask yourself this:

  • What proportion of your social media use is aimed at engaging prospective customers, informing people about you as a business and interacting with your target audience by offering them fantastic customer service, insights and content? That’s to say, fostering loyalty to your brand and engagement with your business?
  • What proportion of your social media use is actually pure advertising of the products or services you’d like to sell, calling out to people to purchase these via social media just as you might do via an email marketing campaign?

The reason for this litmus test is that interaction and engagement with prospects should be the primary aim of your social activities. This places the emphasis firmly on befriending people, building up trust and enthusiasm towards your company – and thereby securing interest from individuals who otherwise might not have considered your company at all - or who were a long way from having decided to purchase from you.

Now look back at the litmus test above. It should be self-evident that any business owner simply pushing people to buy isn’t breaking any new ground or distinguishing themselves from competitors. They’ve just taken this new media and used it as a channel to push out the same old advert they’ve always promoted on a slightly different medium. There’s no attempt at engaging with a whole new audience of prospective (but as yet unengaged) customers. There’s no pretence that people can now interact with the business where previously they could not – or indeed that such interaction would be welcomed. It’s rather a case of “business as usual”.

Carving Out a Competitive Advantage with Social Media

The businesses really carving out competitive advantage for their organisations are those who have instead grabbed social media as a way of talking to customers and interacting with them as much as possible in a conversational and approachable manner.

Social media has given small businesses the tools to be able to understand what motivates their target audience, to engage with them, to overcome their objections… and to solidify their decision to buy.

Those who have grasped these possibilities are building up followings of intrigued – and often devoted – advocates and customers. People who increasingly aspire to the products or services the business offers. People who may also evangelise about your company and what is sells, who will speak warmly about as a current customer or as someone who’s been won over by the business. The truth is that you have to give to get in social media – the polar opposite to the advertising mindset and the reason that so few small businesses are yet fully capitalising on social media.

Going head to head against such a business with a simple promotional feed of products and services is like pitting a caveman with a spear against a modern day soldier. The only explanation is that many businesses simply don’t understand they’ve left themselves at such a disadvantage.

So take away this key message. If you will focus on engagement – rather than promotion – then you’ll leave yourself well positioned for success. You’ll also find it a more rewarding way to spend your working day, engaged in a series of warm conversations rather than soul-destroying “cold call” campaigns.

Of course there's a lot more to social media business success than just this. If you've been meaning to generate more results from social media for your small business then do join me for our Small Business Webinar. Or if you'd prefer you're welcome to reach out to book a social media consultation to talk through the specifics of your business and the markets you serve.


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