A lot of business owners are afraid to put themselves online. This can be for many reasons. Maybe they are afraid personal information will be found. Perhaps they are afraid that previous indiscretions might be found. More likely, it’s just fear of the unknown. Watch as Taylor talks about why you should not be afraid to put your business online.
The business marketing landscape has rapidly changed in a short period of time. Small business owners are frequently told that to be successful, they should “be on” social media, but they’re never given an idea why they should be there or how they should go about it. And if you started your business 15 or 20 years ago, you have probably had a hard time even seeing the point in this whole ongoing discussion. So why should you care about being engaged in any kind of online social conversation? Perhaps retired U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki said it best; “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
Social Participation is Becoming Increasingly Relevant
In our agency, we have seen that social media signals (Tweets, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, etc.) have been playing an increasing role in Google’s search rankings. While not an end-all be-all, Google has seen the value in giving brands and companies a boost in search visibility if they see a lot of social media “chatter” about that company. It is a good sign of a healthy company that connects with its customers, and cares about providing useful information and service to people. Conversely, when customers interact with a company online, it tells Google that the company is engaged, trustworthy, and worth talking about.
So how do you incorporate timely and relevant online social interactions into your business marketing strategy? It turns out, the answer is not much different online than it is offline…
Go Where Your Customers Are
A major reason you need to maintain a presence in social media is the fact that both your potential and existing customers are there. The age demographics bear this out. On Facebook, adults, aged 25 to 34, are the largest user group. However, users aged 55 and older are the fastest growing age group. Twitter, while not as popular as Facebook, commands a large share of the adult population too. Needless to say, there are lots of homeowners among users 25 years and up!
Pinterest and Instagram are relatively newer networks to the social media-sphere, but they are also important. Women, who make many of the household decisions, make up around 70% of the Pinterest user base. Instagram’s user base is more varied, but you’ve got great potential for reach there ever since Facebook purchased it. Because Facebook has a financial stake in promoting it, Instagram is going to show up in front of lots of eyeballs. Again, there are quite a few homeowners that regularly view their Pinterest and Instagram accounts.
All of these numbers about user groups serve as a clear indication that those that aren’t utilizing the various social media networks are missing out on the chance to reach a lot of eyeballs. That’s a lot of eyeballs that own homes that have chimneys that will need cleaning and repairs. You will want to educate those people on your services through your social outlets.
Remember, It’s Not About You, It’s About Them
This brings us to the how part of the social media equation. How do you go about Tweeting and Facebooking and Pinning? First, you need to think about social media as a conversation. If you only post things about your company, you are, in effect, only broadcasting commercials about yourself. Think about it this way. Would you enjoy being around someone who only talks about themselves, and doesn’t engage the people around them? Your potential customers aren’t going to engage with a company that doesn’t engage with them.
This means you should pay attention to what your customers pay attention to. What are the events going on in your local market? Do you sponsor a little league baseball team? What types of volunteer work do you and your employees do? Show people that you are engaged with your local community. Remember, it is possible to talk to people about your community involvement without sounding like you are bragging. Isn’t that what you are already doing when you converse in your real life relationships? There’s that word again: conversation.
Learning By Doing
Why you should participate in social media should now be pretty obvious. That’s where you will find lots of people to network with, and your business will have a greater chance of remaining relevant for years to come. How you participate is not as easily definable, but the best way to learn is to simply do it. Go into the various networks. See how people interact. Talk to people. Again, don’t you already do this type of thing in real life? You know…have conversations.
Taylor Hill brings a wealth of experience and experiences to his role as chief strategist at Spark Marketer. He and Carter Harkins started the company to meet the needs of the emerging class of small business owners they were coming across. They found that these businesses needed help navigating the world of online marketing, but weren’t able to pay the upfront costs of having a professional, fully optimized website built for them. Taylor and Carter proceeded to draw up affordable packages that would allow these small businesses to have a robust web presence, and would allow them to compete with the so-called “big boys”. I sat down with Taylor, and asked him a few questions about why he started Spark Marketer with Carter. I also wanted to give you an idea of how his brain works, so I’ve asked him a few personal questions to give you some extra insight into how he thinks.
Jonathan Sanders: What made you and Carter decide to start Spark Marketer?
Taylor Hill: We had an existing client from the chimney sweeping industry come to us and ask if there was a program that we could offer that would allow other chimney sweeps to have the same quality service we had given to him without all the upfront out-of-pocket costs. We toyed with the idea for about 8 months before we settled on it, and Spark Marketer came from that idea.
JS: What type of work experience, education, and life experiences do you bring to Spark Marketer that informs how you advocate for clients?
TH: I think the thing I bring the most is a sense of fairness. I used to work in the finance industry, and I saw so many instances of smoke and mirrors that I became uncomfortable working in that industry. I found the same thing in the mortgage industry, and the goal seemed to be to take advantage of people. It was all about getting people’s money. Also, as a loan officer, I found that it was hard to find people to help me optimize my website. I think these experiences, more than anything, inform how I interact with and work for our clients. We really want to bring value.
JS: What roles do you fill with Spark Marketer?
TH: First, I spend a lot of time on strategy. I go through a lot of information every day, and I spread it around to the appropriate people. We use that information in a very strategic manner. Secondly, I am the chief liason to most of our clients. Part of that is because my background in the financial industry caused me to learn to get back to people really quick. Thirdly, as an owner, I’m here to keep things running as they should.
JS: What is your favorite thing about what you, personally, bring to the clients?
TH: I think perspective is one thing. I like the challenge of seeing things from many different viewpoints. Everyone is different, and they have different wants and needs. I like being able to bring a different perspective that can bring what is important in that situation to light. That way, we can let the less important things fall to the wayside.
JS: I’d like everybody to get to know your personality and what makes you tick. I think a person’s favorite films say a lot about them. What are your favorite films, and why do you love them?
TH: The Man From Snowy River for 1 particular scene. When that horse goes down the side of the mountain…I read how they tracked that shot…they were actually able to shoot that scene in 1 take. It is the most fascinating scene in film. It wasn’t green screened, and it didn’t have any special effects. It was shot on an incredible incline on the side of a mountain. I watch this film for that 1 scene. On the fun side, 50 First Dates is one. It shows tenacity…and it’s funny! Also, Shallow Hal is another one. I think there are so many lessons in that film. It just is good about showing how we treat people and how we should be treating people.
JS: If you could see 1 person in concert, who would that be?
TH: Willie Nelson. I’ve seen him 4 times, and I’d see him again.
JS: What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
TH: Probably, The Day of Empire. It’s one of the best books about the empire’s of the world. If you’re talking about fiction, I would say The Hunger Games trilogy. Also, I recently read the Harry Potter books, so I could talk about them with my grandkids.
JS: Besides movies, what we listen to can say a lot about us. What did you listen to in the car on the way to work today?
TH: Normally I’m on my scooter, so nothing really. I’m always thinking. However, 9 times out of 10, I do the same thing in my truck.
JS: Lastly, do you have any pets? What are their names?
TH: I have 2 pets…my wife has 3. My pets are Bandit, who is a 19 lbs. chihuahua-dachshund mix, and who thinks I hung the moon. So, I kinda like him too! Bogie is a nearly 1 year old Australian Shepard…just a little dog at 73 lbs.! He was supposed to top out at 55 lbs., but that didn’t work out! We do have a cat, named Bentley…which my wife loves…and I tolerate!