Most people are in one of two camps when it comes to shopping the day after Thanksgiving. There's the big-box crowd, of course. Then there are those who hole up at home, decidedly avoiding the lines and badly behaving adults who have been known to fight and snatch goods out of each other’s carts just to save a few dollars.
Thanks to corporate sponsor American Express, Small Business Saturday offers a third option. This weekend small businesses around the nation will offer deals and discounts and promote them using a wide swath of digital tools. And according to American Express, 93 percent of consumers want to shop small.
It’s not too late to get in on the action. Here are a few thoughts on some fast ways of doing it:
Even though it’s currently the underdog on the social scene, some people think that’s about to change. For one thing, it just experienced a big surge in traffic earlier this month when on Nov. 7, Google+ rolled out a new feature called Pages, which lets businesses build profiles to promote their brands.
So should you set one up? Jason Hennessey, CEO of digital marketing agency Everspark Interactive, says you should use Small Business Saturday as a good excuse to spend the 10 minutes it takes to do it. “It’s going to be sending very strong signals with regard to the search engine optimization of the small business," he says. "So you have to be on there if you’re serious about bringing targeted Web traffic from Google to your business.”
Nearly 2.5 million have “liked” the “Shop Small” movement on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page—that’s up about a million from last year when the program debuted. “If I had to call out just one specific place that I see retailers spending their time and really seeing a monetized return, that would be Facebook,” says Patricia Norins, a consultant billing herself as a Small Business Saturday Shopping Expert, who says it’s the platform that does the best job of helping small businesses create relationships with customers.
Amelia Ceja agrees. Her company, Ceja Vinyards in Napa, Calif., has been using Facebook and other social channels to promote the 25 percent discount it’s offering on Saturday. “Facebook is about getting your story out there and engaging your fans,” she says.
My Business Story is a super slick tool for quickly creating a YouTube video that lets people know what your business is all about. In just a few minutes you can upload video to this special YouTube video editor and shortly thereafter have your company’s story live for millions to see. The tool also literally places your company on the map so people can find where you’re located.
But you don’t have to use Google’s special tool—a plain old upload will do as well. Check out this enthusiastic video made by Zoot, a small business that sells hair products.
About a week ago Sharon Munroe, owner of Little Green Beans, a children’s consignment store in Austin, Texas, decided to use Twitter and the company’s blog to promote Small Business Saturday. “We have sent out three tweets per day about the event,” she says, adding that she feels good about the effort since her followers aren’t just random strangers but local parents. “Twitter is a key tool for expanding our online presence and one we will continue to use,” she says.
Since Foursquare is all about getting people to check in to local businesses, it makes sense it would be involved in Small Business Saturday. Here's one way to lure customers in: Let your friends and followers know that American Express is giving its cardmembers a $25 credit on their statements when they spend $25 at a local business.
To help facilitate that, Foursquare says people can sync their Foursquare accounts to their American Express cards at sync.americanexpress.com/foursquare. The Foursquare app then will point out all the nearby American Express specials in its Explore tab. After checking in to a business, people can tap a button that says “load to card.” Shortly after they pay, they’ll receive notification that they just got at $25 Amex account credit, which will appear on their statement around five business days later.
If You Have to Pick One…
Don’t. That’s what Ceja would say.
Ceja Vineyards has about 130 videos on YouTube and thousands of friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. And the company has been using them all heavily to promote Small Business Saturday, while at the same time trying to stay true to its message of authenticity.
“We really understand the value of social media because [fans] may not buy directly from those sites but then they learn about us and are engaged in our story,” she says. “You cannot sell all the time. You have to provide content that has value to your followers and when you’re educating and engaging and entertaining then you add a lot of value to your followers.”
I would love to hear how your Small Business Saturday marketing efforts are going. And please feel free to drop me a tweet @salubriousdish next week to let me know how it went!