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Are Small Businesses Spending Too Much Time on Social?

Day to day business activities have transformed dramatically since I launched my first company nearly 20 years ago. Back then, there was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn. My social contact with customers and potential customers was limited to email and phone conversations.

With the birth of social media, I was eager to adopt a new way of doing business. Like so many other small business owners, I was enamored by the possibility of reaching new customers at an unprecedented scale, getting free exposure and showing a more fun side of our business. I was determined to be the “social” company in my industry.

As time went on, some of the shiny facade of social media began to chip. I wondered if all the time I was spending on social activities like Instagram and Twitter was actually paying off. Using social media effectively takes an enormous effort, between creating original content, defining a social strategy and roadmap, managing communities, running targeted ads and more

Last year, Vertical Response conducted a survey of small businesses and social media and found that 43 percent of small businesses spend about six hours per week on social media (almost the equivalent of a full workday). Most telling to me, one-third of CEOs and small business owners wanted to spend less time on social media.

If you’re wondering if you or your business is spending too much time on social, here are a few things that I have learned.

Know your market before investing in social media.

With all the buzz surrounding social media, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon without first creating a social strategy that makes sense for your business. Some businesses live on social media — for example, urban food trucks that use Twitter to let their customers know where they are. But that’s not every business.

The key to social media marketing is reaching your target audience wherever they live, work or play. If the people you’re trying to reach aren’t using Instagram, even the best content on Instagram won’t do a thing for your business. Think about the demographics of your target customers and research where they spend their time. You can even ask some of your existing customers which social platforms they’re likely to use, and where they’d like to connect with you.

Prioritizing your social media presence is the single most important thing you can do to minimize (and optimize) the time spent on social media.

Don’t ignore other channels because of social media.

You should never put so much time and energy into social media activities that you can’t do anything else. For some small businesses, a strong email campaign will be even more effective than social media, since email is a form of direct marketing.

Over the years, I came to discover that the more time time I spent on social media, the less social I was actually being. When I backed away from Twitter and Facebook, I had more time to answer phones and talk to customers one on one. Meeting people through live networking events and conferences is what keeps me inspired and driven. The bottom line is you don’t really know your customers if you’re just interacting through blog comments and retweets.

Learn to function without your smartphone.

As a mom of teens and tweens, I understand the importance of logging off from social media and putting away the phone. Some of the same messages I tell my daughter apply just as well to me as a CEO. We live in a distracted world, but your relationships will be impacted if you’re always distracted when talking to employees and customers. As hard as it may be, resist the urge to check your phone when talking to somebody; the conversation you’re having right now with an employee is just as important as the Facebook message you just received.

Listen to experts with a grain of salt.

Given social media’s popularity, it’s no surprise that an entire industry has sprouted up to help businesses manage their social media presence. Many small business owners are sold on the importance of social media by consultants who want to set up and manage their accounts.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a publicist and marketing manager who truly understands social. But, there are others out there who try to convince small business owners that creating a Facebook page will instantly double their sales leads. That’s setting the wrong expectations.

Before investing significant time in social media, you need to understand that “likes” don’t equal clicks or sales. The power of social media is that it helps foster loyalty, trust, and goodwill between you and your customers. Some of your social efforts will bring in direct sales, but more than likely, it will be a gradual process toward increasing your community and brand presence. Social media marketing requires a lot of patience, but don’t ignore all your other customer touch points along the way.

Daymond John’s Top 7 Tips on How to Launch Your Product Like a Shark

We called the multi-millionaire fashion mogul to glean his tips on how to promote your product like a shark. Here are his top seven:
1. Know what your customers will want.

Your first step when launching a new product is to think backwards, John says. Brainstorm on ways you can make the product something your target customers would want to buy in the first place.

“Like I did with FUBU, we created a product for people who understood us and who were just like us, people who love rap music and who love rap culture,” he says. Envision your ideal buyers — what they generally like and dislike, what pains they have that need to be solved — then build your initial product concept in a way that will “speak to them.”

2. Directly involve your target customer in the creation of your product.

“You don’t build it and they will come,” John says. “You have your target customer be an integral part of your entire launch, from concept and beyond.” For example, when he came up with the concept for his latest book, he polled his followers on Twitter and other social media platforms on what color they’d like the book cover to be and which topics they’d like to see broached in individual chapters.

“I gave them choices so they felt part of the launch process, rallying them around the product and driving up the likelihood that they’d actually want it,” he says.

3. Build a vocal community around your product ahead of launch.

Brand ambassador community-building is key long before you launch, John says. Like he says he did with The Power of Broke, if possible, send out early versions of your product to potential brand ambassadors, influencers on social media with large follower counts who can amplify news of your coming launch. The end game is to preemptively build brand loyalty through early brand ambassadors.

John did this long before social media came on the scene, in the heart of his stomping grounds in Queens. “Before FUBU got to the LL Cool Js of the world, before we became official and before social media got big, I made sure all the coolest kids in my neighborhood that everyone respected had my stuff on,” he says. “They took a bullhorn and talked it up in the rap community, which then influenced the influencers and maximized our reach — from neighborhood to city to world.”

4. Gather as much feedback on your product as you can. Then gather some more.

To attract brand ambassadors who get behind your product and promote it, John suggests collecting their first impressions and making any necessary tweaks before you launch. “To get people who will truly love your product and spread the word, make them proud of it and make sure you don’t embarrass them by putting something out there that isn’t 100 percent,” he says.

Be sure to ask the brand ambassadors you recruit what they do and don’t like about your product. What would they like to seem improved and why? “Pay attention to what they say because it’s critical to your product’s success,” John says.

5. Cross-promote your product with power players.

O.P.M. doesn’t just mean other people’s money, John says. “It can also be other people’s momentum, other people’s mind power, other people’s marketing and other people’s manpower.” You should strategically latch onto all these things when releasing a product via power players in the realm or industry you’re selling in.

For example, John tapped marketing pro and Entrepreneur contributing writer Jeffrey Hayzlett to cross-market his new book when it launched. “I say cross-market because this is where it really goes both ways,” he says. “I promote Jeffrey and then he promotes me, on his Twitter on his podcast — wherever is going to make the highest impact. I borrow his audience where they live and the same goes for him. We’re in a mutually beneficial relationship. My book is being moved and he’s passing value on down to his readers and listeners.”

6. Get your product on local retailers’ shelves first.

Think locally, aim globally. The reality, John says, is that small mom-and-pop shops will promote your product far more than a larger, big-box retailer. “Neighborhood boutiques and small, local retail shops are the fabric of communities,” he says. “Important conversations happen there. The owners typically have trust with the neighbors who shop there and their endorsement of your product goes far.”

If your wares become successful from initial small-store sales and the buzz grows loud enough, the big retailers will eventually come knocking. “They’ll see that they don’t have to risk too much because they’ll see and know that your product is working and they’ll want to back it as well,” he says.

7. Don’t forget to say “thank you.”

The final step in promoting your new product is to do something your mom taught you to do: express your gratitude by saying thank you often and genuinely. “Once people are part of your brand tribe, show them you’re thankful for their purchase, then show them you mean it,” John says. One way John did this with his FUBU customers was to send them free products when they’d bought a certain amount of items.

More recently, with his newest book, John personally thanks people who buy the business how-to at his book-signings. “I look them in the eye, connect with them and say ‘thank you.’ They then snap a picture and spread the moment on social media,” he says. “They’re going to remember me over the person who just took their money and said an empty ‘thank you.’ At the end of the day, the reward is loyalty.”

Conquer Your Fears!

http://angelnetwork.com/ammlive/ – Greg invites you to work through the business challenges that cause you fear and unease:
He walks you through a technique that help you conquer your to-do list and thrive!

**What is Angel Investors Network?
Angel Investors Network (AIN) was created by a group of successful entrepreneurs, investment bankers, angel investors, marketing and management experts, lawyers and accountants who have built companies in a diverse set of industries.
AIN offers investors an opportunity to participate in the buying and selling of businesses, making equity investments, and providing debt financing to businesses with the opportunity of managing risk and creating wealth.
AIN also works with investors, marketing strategists, management experts and financial gurus who combine their skills and experience to work with our target entrepreneurs and make them highly successful business owners.

We are more than just Angel Investors. We are a community of experts that invest our time, expertise, and money in exchange for equity with the objective to perpetuate free enterprise, capitalism and support the entrepreneur spirit while creating wealth, happiness and fulfillment for all those involved.

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