23 June 2008

Measuring Social Media Effectiveness for Your Small Business

Measuring the impact of using social media to drive visibility and sales for business is still a bit elusive. The big companies have yet to solidly quantify what using social media has done for them, but the anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive. For instance, we know that once Dell started getting its employees involved and participating in communities, there was significantly less negative feedback posted about them on their own site or others. Exactly how that translates into sales for their business is another issue, partially because they have so many avenues to track, and one I’m sure they’re all hard at work on by now. I, for one, cannot wait to hear the results.

For small business, the good news is that it can actually be easier for you to measure the impact of your social media adventures, because you have the ability to personally be out there and communicating with people to get their feedback and input in real time. The social media avenues themselves can be your ticket to quantifying just how much business they bring to your door.

Pick Your Spots and Participate.
For instance, let’s say you’re on Twitter and you spend time there every day chatting with folks. And you use LinkedIn Answers to provide input for colleagues looking for professional collaboration. Perhaps you even have a feedback forum on your website for your products, or allow users to post reviews.

If you’re new to social media, choosing sites that allow you to hold a dialogue can provide a better forum for networking and business development than an ad placement on Facebook, and can make it easier to identify people who move from online contact to prospective client.

And listening is as important as talking. Folks might be talking about you in places you don’t frequent. Chris Brogan sums it up better than I can in this post about how and where to listen online.

Ask Questions.
You should always be asking how your clients and customers find you, anyway. In this case, it’s a straightforward matter of tracking how many people cite these online communities as their conduit to your website (or blog) and therefore, to your company. Sound unreasonably simple? It can be, at least for starters.

If someone replies that so-and-so referred them to you, ask them how they know or found that person, too. It can give you a nice trail of breadcrumbs leading back to the original source. And if you have a new client that found you through other means, ask them anyway if they’ve seen you online, or read your blog. If so, see if that had any impact on their decision to buy from you.

Keep Track.
Small business has a major advantage in social media, especially owners and staffers that are savvy about keeping in great contact with their clients and customers. Pay attention to the people you meet via social media, and make sure to note that in your contact management system, even if it’s just your Outlook contacts. Note the visitors who comment on your blog, and those who sign up for your RSS feed. Flag those email addresses so you know who they are when they come knocking (and they will!).

As a small business owner, you have fewer degrees of separation between you and your customers, and that’s a great advantage when it comes to finding out just how effective your online exploits are. Asking, responding, talking all go a long way. It is called social media, after all!

Photo Credit: Darren Hester
Zemanta Pixie

2 comments:

Allie said...

Interesting post. I want to run a business soon, so I'll keep this in mind. I've been wanting to do this for a while now, and more recently I've thought about buying an existing business instead of starting one from scratch. I'm not entirely sure how to go about this quite yet. Do you have any suggestions? Advice? Thanks.

Maggie R. said...

@Allie - There are a lot of resources online that you can use to find a business. I know there's one called BizTrader.com. It's like this online global marketplace where you can buy or sell a business. You can also use it to find a lender or broker. If anything, it's a good way to know what's even available in your area.

That being said, it might also be worth it to check out local small business groups. They should be able to provide you with useful information as well.

Good luck!

23 June 2008

Measuring Social Media Effectiveness for Your Small Business

Measuring the impact of using social media to drive visibility and sales for business is still a bit elusive. The big companies have yet to solidly quantify what using social media has done for them, but the anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive. For instance, we know that once Dell started getting its employees involved and participating in communities, there was significantly less negative feedback posted about them on their own site or others. Exactly how that translates into sales for their business is another issue, partially because they have so many avenues to track, and one I’m sure they’re all hard at work on by now. I, for one, cannot wait to hear the results.

For small business, the good news is that it can actually be easier for you to measure the impact of your social media adventures, because you have the ability to personally be out there and communicating with people to get their feedback and input in real time. The social media avenues themselves can be your ticket to quantifying just how much business they bring to your door.

Pick Your Spots and Participate.
For instance, let’s say you’re on Twitter and you spend time there every day chatting with folks. And you use LinkedIn Answers to provide input for colleagues looking for professional collaboration. Perhaps you even have a feedback forum on your website for your products, or allow users to post reviews.

If you’re new to social media, choosing sites that allow you to hold a dialogue can provide a better forum for networking and business development than an ad placement on Facebook, and can make it easier to identify people who move from online contact to prospective client.

And listening is as important as talking. Folks might be talking about you in places you don’t frequent. Chris Brogan sums it up better than I can in this post about how and where to listen online.

Ask Questions.
You should always be asking how your clients and customers find you, anyway. In this case, it’s a straightforward matter of tracking how many people cite these online communities as their conduit to your website (or blog) and therefore, to your company. Sound unreasonably simple? It can be, at least for starters.

If someone replies that so-and-so referred them to you, ask them how they know or found that person, too. It can give you a nice trail of breadcrumbs leading back to the original source. And if you have a new client that found you through other means, ask them anyway if they’ve seen you online, or read your blog. If so, see if that had any impact on their decision to buy from you.

Keep Track.
Small business has a major advantage in social media, especially owners and staffers that are savvy about keeping in great contact with their clients and customers. Pay attention to the people you meet via social media, and make sure to note that in your contact management system, even if it’s just your Outlook contacts. Note the visitors who comment on your blog, and those who sign up for your RSS feed. Flag those email addresses so you know who they are when they come knocking (and they will!).

As a small business owner, you have fewer degrees of separation between you and your customers, and that’s a great advantage when it comes to finding out just how effective your online exploits are. Asking, responding, talking all go a long way. It is called social media, after all!

Photo Credit: Darren Hester
Zemanta Pixie

2 comments:

Allie said...

Interesting post. I want to run a business soon, so I'll keep this in mind. I've been wanting to do this for a while now, and more recently I've thought about buying an existing business instead of starting one from scratch. I'm not entirely sure how to go about this quite yet. Do you have any suggestions? Advice? Thanks.

Maggie R. said...

@Allie - There are a lot of resources online that you can use to find a business. I know there's one called BizTrader.com. It's like this online global marketplace where you can buy or sell a business. You can also use it to find a lender or broker. If anything, it's a good way to know what's even available in your area.

That being said, it might also be worth it to check out local small business groups. They should be able to provide you with useful information as well.

Good luck!

23 June 2008

Measuring Social Media Effectiveness for Your Small Business

Measuring the impact of using social media to drive visibility and sales for business is still a bit elusive. The big companies have yet to solidly quantify what using social media has done for them, but the anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive. For instance, we know that once Dell started getting its employees involved and participating in communities, there was significantly less negative feedback posted about them on their own site or others. Exactly how that translates into sales for their business is another issue, partially because they have so many avenues to track, and one I’m sure they’re all hard at work on by now. I, for one, cannot wait to hear the results.

For small business, the good news is that it can actually be easier for you to measure the impact of your social media adventures, because you have the ability to personally be out there and communicating with people to get their feedback and input in real time. The social media avenues themselves can be your ticket to quantifying just how much business they bring to your door.

Pick Your Spots and Participate.
For instance, let’s say you’re on Twitter and you spend time there every day chatting with folks. And you use LinkedIn Answers to provide input for colleagues looking for professional collaboration. Perhaps you even have a feedback forum on your website for your products, or allow users to post reviews.

If you’re new to social media, choosing sites that allow you to hold a dialogue can provide a better forum for networking and business development than an ad placement on Facebook, and can make it easier to identify people who move from online contact to prospective client.

And listening is as important as talking. Folks might be talking about you in places you don’t frequent. Chris Brogan sums it up better than I can in this post about how and where to listen online.

Ask Questions.
You should always be asking how your clients and customers find you, anyway. In this case, it’s a straightforward matter of tracking how many people cite these online communities as their conduit to your website (or blog) and therefore, to your company. Sound unreasonably simple? It can be, at least for starters.

If someone replies that so-and-so referred them to you, ask them how they know or found that person, too. It can give you a nice trail of breadcrumbs leading back to the original source. And if you have a new client that found you through other means, ask them anyway if they’ve seen you online, or read your blog. If so, see if that had any impact on their decision to buy from you.

Keep Track.
Small business has a major advantage in social media, especially owners and staffers that are savvy about keeping in great contact with their clients and customers. Pay attention to the people you meet via social media, and make sure to note that in your contact management system, even if it’s just your Outlook contacts. Note the visitors who comment on your blog, and those who sign up for your RSS feed. Flag those email addresses so you know who they are when they come knocking (and they will!).

As a small business owner, you have fewer degrees of separation between you and your customers, and that’s a great advantage when it comes to finding out just how effective your online exploits are. Asking, responding, talking all go a long way. It is called social media, after all!

Photo Credit: Darren Hester
Zemanta Pixie

2 comments:

Allie said...

Interesting post. I want to run a business soon, so I'll keep this in mind. I've been wanting to do this for a while now, and more recently I've thought about buying an existing business instead of starting one from scratch. I'm not entirely sure how to go about this quite yet. Do you have any suggestions? Advice? Thanks.

Maggie R. said...

@Allie - There are a lot of resources online that you can use to find a business. I know there's one called BizTrader.com. It's like this online global marketplace where you can buy or sell a business. You can also use it to find a lender or broker. If anything, it's a good way to know what's even available in your area.

That being said, it might also be worth it to check out local small business groups. They should be able to provide you with useful information as well.

Good luck!