I just finished the "Social Media: Do or Die" panel here at the Inc. 500|5000 conference. It was awesome. I've been looking forward to this because my marketing software company, VerticalResponse, has a social media product and we're always educating our small business customers about the importance of social media. I was hoping to get some fresh insights.
The panelists were a fun bunch and included Jen Rubio, head of social media at Warby Parker Eyewear; Aaron Aders, co-founder and market research director at SlingshotSEO and Dave Kerpen, co-founder and CEO of Likeable. The panel was moderated by Howard Greenstein, Inc.com columnist and marketing technology strategist and president at The Harbrooke Group.
Now, on to the good stuff. Here's what I think were the important points from the panel discussion:
Small businesses have an advantage when using social media because of their speed to market against the big guys; they have less legal hoopla and more time interacting with their followers.
Social media is more than just for sales and marketing; it could be a valuable tool for internal communications, too. Software like Yammer can help you set up an internal social network for your business.
Figure out which social network has the most impact for your customers and focus on that network. It's better to excel in one and establish a strong, meaningful community than to be half-ass in several. (My word, not theirs!)
Social media is a two-way street. You can't only respond to the positive and ignore the negative. Show your customers you care, and they'll keep coming back even through the inevitable bumps.
To start a social media plan, begin with your overall business plan and think about how to integrate social media with all parts of your business (e.g., Twitter for customer service, LinkedIn for HR, Facebook for customers).
And, just to show that social media does impact the bottom line, here's a story that one panelist shared: He had a bad experience waiting in a line at a major hotel and tweeted #fail. A neighboring hotel saw it and responded, "Sorry you're having a bad time, hope the rest of your stay is better." The next time, he stayed at this neighboring hotel; not only that, his friend asked if he'd recommend it for a family reunion because of the tweet he saw. Twitter works!
Finally, Dave Kerpen (one of the panelists) and his team at Likeable offered up a free ROI whitepaper that I thought was pretty informative. The great thing is you don't have to be here at the show to get it; download the "3 Easy Ways Retailers Can Measure ROI From Social Media Efforts" here.
All in all, a good panel; loved the stories about real-life successes!