A week or so ago I gave some marketing advice to a small business owner trying to promote his fly-fishing lodge in the Uintah Mountains of Utah. It’s an incredible lodge, with access to world-class private fishing as well as being nestled smack dab in the middle of a National Forest—the perfect spot for a fly-fishing vacation.
“Facebook is just for teenagers,” he said. “I’m wasting my time with social media, right?”
For his situation, it was an easy answer. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging offered him a real opportunity to promote his lodge—provided he did it right.
I thought wasting time on anything like a blog or contributed article was a waste of time. I was wrong.
The last several years of my career have been focused on content marketing (social media, blogging, PR, etc.). With my direct marketing background, if you’d told me I’d be doing anything as “fluffy” as writing a blog or spending my day in social media, I’d likely have laughed you out of the room. Because offers drive response—I thought wasting time on anything like a blog or contributed article was a waste of time. I was wrong.
Fortunately, old dogs can learn new tricks.
Should small business owners consider blogging and social media to promote their businesses? Yes—and maybe, provided you do it right.
I’m convinced there are four keys to successful small business blogging and social media. If you’re going to invest in this channel, these tips will give you an idea of the commitment you should be prepared to make:
- You’ve got to be consistent: I write every day. Yesterday it might have been for our Lendio blog and today it’s this piece for SelfEmployed.com. I’m publishing something someplace almost every day. Most small business owners don’t need to write every day, but they need to be consistent. I suggested to my friend from the fishing lodge that he should publish something new on his blog three times a week.
What’s more, he should be posting on media like Facebook and Twitter at least a couple times a day. It’s not really the volume of content, but how consistent you are. Your readers will become accustomed to your cadence and will anticipate your next post. You might also be interested to know that it takes 50 posts before Google will index you. At a post a week, it will be a year before Google’s search engine starts to pay any attention to you.
- Write it yourself: Some executives hire ghostwriters (hired guns who write for them as if they were them). It’s no secret that some CEOs are better writers than others; or might not have the time to invest in a weekly blog post or monthly-contributed article. Particularly for a CEO who is trying to establish him or herself as a thought leader, I think a ghostwriter is a little disingenuous. It should be you, not your publicist writing for you.
I started blogging years ago because my CEO at the time didn’t have the time or the chops to pound out a daily blog (which is what we did to get our 50 posts as quickly as we could). He also knew that pretending to be him would ultimately be discovered and would reflect negatively on him, our company, and me. He chose, to his credit, to allow me to write under my own name and establish myself as our company’s thought leader. As a result I was invited to write and speak at different industry events all over the world. Rather than face the potential embarrassment of being discovered as a fraud, he was lauded for being a savvy and innovative CEO.
- Make it personal: Here’s where we can really learn something from the lifestyle and mom bloggers. They talk about their families, the products they use, and how they use them. Over the years, my readers have come to know me because I share some of the details of my life. For example, they know I waste too much time on my Harley, drive a Jeep, and enjoy fly-fishing.
Because business is personal, sharing a little of yourself when it’s relevant to the discussion at hand, makes you more accessible. People like doing business with other people. If you can’t do that, find a trusted employee who has the skills and allow them to become the public face of your company. If they are trusted and respected, people will do business with you because of your association with them.
- Be credible—don’t waste your time: You can’t always be a salesman. I recommended to my friend with the fishing lodge that he should share tips and hints for catching more fish regardless of where you were. You should do the same. Share information about your industry that will help your readers be successful—even if they don’t use your products. It may feel counter-intuitive, but there are numerous examples of companies that have very successfully leveraged this tactic within their content marketing strategy.
I’ve seen competitors treat social media like their other marketing channels and flood the medium with sales messages that get ignored. If you share information that will benefit those who could be your customers, they will become your customers because they trust you and the information you freely share. We see those results at Lendio and monitor them on a weekly basis.
Is blogging and social media right for your business? Depending on your approach it could be perfect for your business. Thanks for reading.
Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty makes small business best practices, tips and advice accessible by weaving personal experiences, historical references and other anecdotes into relevant discussions about leading people, managing a business and what it takes to be successful. Ty writes about small business for Lendio.