Fueling Your Small Business Fire
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Fueling Your Small Business Fire

According to Forbes, on average during 2015 businesses with less than $5 million in annual revenue experienced 7.8% annual sales growth. Is your small business feeling that growth? Odds are if you are a small business retailer, the answer is not so much.

There are a number of strategies small retailers can employ to stoke online sales growth. Here are few ideas to get you going. Try them out and see which of these best help you to reach your ideal customer.
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Social is Seriously Serious Business

I received an IM from a friend a couple days ago that got me thinking. He was asking for my advice because his friend’s 15-year-old son wants to start a social media marketing business. I asked my friend to send me this young man’s business plan, so that I could review and make recommendations. The response: “Um, he doesn’t have a business plan.”

WHAT?

Don’t get me wrong – there are teens who are capable of being businesspeople. Take Brooke Martin, for example, who created icpooch when she was just 12. This kind of magic can and does happen. But I can just see how this kiddo’s plan evolved… I want extra money > I like social networks > Local businesses use social networks > I could post for these businesses and charge them for it > I’ll start a social media marketing business! So easy, right? WRONG.

Clearly the first step would be to develop a business plan. But what that plan entails can really vary depending on the business. Creating and managing a business’ social media marketing could mean so many different things. A few examples? OK… a Facebook page, LinkedIn groups, a LinkedIn corporate page, a Twitter profile, a Google+ page, Tumblr, Reddit, Yelp. What about content driven social? Oh, how about… Pinterest, Instagram, a YouTube channel, Meerkat and/or Periscope and/or Vine, blogs. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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Social Channel Selection & the Content Sandwich

Back when the social media revolution began, there were few options available to businesses – blogs, forums and MySpace were the highlights. Shortly thereafter, Facebook, which began as a platform for college students became available to the masses and Twitter launched… fast-forward to today. Social media now takes the form of networks (Facebook, Google+, LinkedInMySpace), videos (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine), images (Instagram, Flickr), blogs (Blogger, WordPress), microblogs (Twitter, Tumblr), chats and video chats (SnapChat, WhatsApp, Skype), bookmarking/content-sharing sites (Pinterest, Digg, StumbleUpon, SlideShare), communities (reddit), music (Spotify, Last.FM, SoundCloud), Q&A forums (Quora, Ask.FM), location-based platforms (Foursquare, Swarm, Yelp), review sites (Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor), and shopping (Amazon, eBay).

Online social opportunities for each and every business are endless. Unfortunately, time and money are not. Think you can just choose your favorite platform and dive-in head first? Probably not a good idea. It’s unlikely that your entire target audience will be devoted to one social site (see below). In fact, they most likely use several different social platforms at different times for different reasons. So try to be everywhere, right? NO. You’ll spread yourself too thin.

Social Media Matrix

Pew Research Center, 2013

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Let’s Get Visual! Let Me See Your Content Talk!

There’s a reason that popularity of social sites like Instagram and Pinterest have skyrocketed recently.  It is the same reason that you used to be drawn to the stories in the newspaper that had images associated with them (hey! remember when you actually held a newspaper in your hand and read it?).  By design, we’re visual beings.  We’re built to see a wide spectrum of colors, depth and texture.

But the reason we’re drawn to imagery goes beyond that – when we view imagery, we each see something unique and we connect emotionally to the visual by creating our meaning for it.  Visuals make more lasting impressions because we process them differently than we do text.  According to a recent LinkedIn blog post, when we process imagery we are using 75% of our sensory neurons.  Imagery has become the new headline.  In this new fast-paced world where we’re dealing with a barrage of messages and continuous noise via every social channel, imagery is what we (marketers) need to use to capture the attention of our audience.

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When Actual Self ≠ Digital Self: Vetting People Online

In our Audience Insight class during my Master’s program, we learned about the theory of self-discrepancy and how the differences between our actual selves (how we really are), our ideal selves (how we want to be perceived) and our ought selves (how we think others want us to be) apply to consumer behavior.  For instance, we often make purchases based on our ideal or ought selves rather than our actual selves.  This theory got me thinking about how we present ourselves online.  Check out this infographic based on an Intel study.  It’s clear that many people lie on social profiles for the purpose of improving how they appear to others.

Is the Social Media You the Real You?

TechDigest

As you post on social sites and/or on your blog, do you present yourself as you actually are?  Or do you present yourself as the person you’d like to be? Or the person you think people want you to be?  Or do you fall somewhere in between?
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