Angela Vithoulkas of VIVO Cafe learnt about the Global Financial Crisis the hard way when in the midst of renovating her Sydney city cafe she lost 2,000 customers in a matter of days to retrenchments.
City cafes rely on having local customers within an eight minute walk and these 2,000 customers weren't going to be replaced with new employees any time soon so Angela realised she had to do what small business is renowned for; an ability to respond quickly and be flexible.
With a $0 marketing budget Angela applied her tenacious talents to social media marketing to promote her business with amazing outcomes. I learnt about Angela Vithoulkas and her impressive results by going along to a Ruby presentation where Angela shared the secrets of her success.
So here are 5 great social marketing tips learnt through trial and error by a small business owner who's made a success out of crisis:
Build a Relationship
Build a relationship with your customers online through various social media channels. Don't restrict yourself to just one platform but use a combination to communicated and build relationships with different audiences. You can start with just one or two and add others as you go along, for example Angela started with a blog then added Twitter and Linkedin and describes herself as 'a late convert to Facebook'.
The key is to focus on building relationships with your customers and audience.
Don't Sell, Instead Talk
Don't sell in the social media environments, instead talk, inform, update and have a giggle with your customers and staff. Relationships are formed through communicating, by talking and participating.
With some much advertising bombarding everyone every day people just switch off from the selling approach. But when you develop a relationship with customers and they feel valued and treasured they turn into advocates and the power of the word of mouth is so much more powerful than any advertisement.
Specific Purposes for Each Social Media Platform
Use the various social media platforms for specific purposes that best suit them; so a blog can be about opinions, Twitter more about having a conversation, Facebook for being social, Foursquare for finding a place, Linkedin for business and YouTube for validation.
Each type of social media has it's strengths and weaknesses, they all change regularly and you need to be able to adapt quickly and effectively to make the most of them as they'll bring different opportunities, new audiences as well as having some interesting crossovers in the audience.
Be Active and Participate
Be active with your participation - if you're tagged, retweeted reply and get involved. Get in conversations and share.
If you're passive so will your audience be passive. The levels of interaction from your audience, from your customers reflects you're own levels of participation and interaction. So reply to comments, tweet replies, say thank you for sharing and have a chat, you never know what new opportunities are going to come out of it.
It's no use creating a blog, posting every day and not telling anyone about it. With any and all of your social media platforms you must tell people where you are and how to get there - an active link is easiest.
You still have to promote the brand, the business. Each profile - blog, Facebook, Twitter etc - must tell where we've been and where we're going and cross promote each other.
The fundamentals of marketing and promotion still apply in the online and iPhone app world, it's only the tools that are changing.
Lessons Learnt from Successful Facebook Businesses
We're really enjoying our series on featuring women who are creating and growing their own successful small businesses on Facebook. Each business owner shares her own experiences, what inspires her and 5 business tips for someone starting out.
See below for more stories and check out our Business and Career page for Facebook Small Businesses for all the latest news!
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