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I was one of three panel members invited to participate in an open forum with local Camberwell business owners and traders to discuss social media for business. Given Melbourne put on some ridiculously wet weather, the turnout was pleasing with what felt like an almost full venue.

Here I’m pictured with Kerry Daly from Camberwell Business, Megan Barrow from JoElla Marketing and Sue Ellson from Newcomers Network and Global Mobility Network.

The evening started with some informal networking, a bite to eat and a cuppa. The evening was organised by ‘Plan Ahead Events Camberwell‘ who did a fine job ensuring the evening ran smoothly. The panel members were then invited to take their seats… centre stage! Anyone who knows me well, public speaking is not really my thing but I felt the panel format was less intimidating and I certainly have a story to share from my own success social media has brought to my business. And guess what? I really wasn’t at all nervous!

So the social media questions and discussions commenced from a room full of people who largely were doing no social media marketing of their businesses at all. The following are some of the main questions that cropped up during the evening:

  • What do you talk about?
  • How do you find the time?
  • How do you know what platform is right for your business?
  • Do you need to participate on all of the social platforms available?

The answers to these questions and tips we offered included:

  • Share the more personal side of your business. Tell your audience a story and allow them to engage with your business. Not only will social media allow you to market and extend the reach but it’s a great PR tool. Your audience will help you market your business by becoming brand advocates.
  • Schedule in time for social media within your day. Engaging is the key, so schedule your generic updates in advance which will free you to engage and build those valuable relationships. If you still struggle for time, outsource the tactical elements to a professional who understands the power of social media marketing and get the social media support you require.
  • Explore the use of tools which will make managing your social media strategy more efficient such as Hootsuite, BufferApp, Sprout Social, etc. Again, if you are unsure, get a professional to assist you to set these up and how to best leverage these tools.
  • You don’t need to be everywhere! If your target market is not on a particular platform then you need not be either. If your business is product based then Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are ideal. Google+ is worth considering just because it’s ‘Google’ and will no doubt support your SEO strategy. Also, consider the platforms you enjoy using. Social media has to be fun. If you’re not enjoying it, this will reflect in your updates.
  • Check out what your competitors are doing. Are they using social media and are they using it well? If you are unsure how to see if they are on social media, simply Google their business name and they will come up in the search results if they are on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Take away: Social media is a powerful marketing tool for small businesses but it does take time. Commit to a consistent strategy and the benefits will follow.

What’s been your social media success story? Share with us by leaving a comment below.

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