Interview: Q: Patrick, what is social media? A: Social Media are the online tools that help reveal the connections between us, and helps facilitate the creation and expansion of those connections. Q: When did you start learning about social media? How did things look back then? Was their Facebook or LinkedIn? A: Online bulletin boards were probably the first form of social media I ever used. That was in the early 1990’s. From 1998-2002, I used online collaborative tools for the Integrated Marketing Communications course I taught at the UW. It was essentially a portal that classmates used to continue the conversation outside of class and share files. One of the books I used in that course was The One to One Future by Don Peppers and Martha Rodgers—a book that encouraged marketers to communicate with prospects and customers in a one to one way. That was hard with the tools available then, but social media has made the one to one future a reality. It’s an exciting time. Q: What is your advice as a 1st best step for a small business that is just starting to use Social Media? A: The first thing you need to do is determine where your customers are. If they’re using LinkedIn, use LinkedIn. Twitter? Then use Twitter. Instagram? That’s where you should be. Go where your customers are! Q: If you had to pick one Social Media site for a small business to focus on, which one would it be and why? A: I would pick the one their customers and prospects are most active on. For example, a restaurant may want to look at using Foursquare or Yelp. Social media is meant to be a social medium, not just a broadcast medium. Don’t just start blasting your constituents with content. Q: How do you measure ROI on Social Media? A: That is the million dollar question. What is the value to create a human voice for your brand? What’s the value of being able to not just talk about being authentic or talk about customer service, but to prove it? What is the value of your company being able to engage with people who are just beginning the journey to learn about companies like yours to leave them with a positive and personal experience? What is that worth to your organization? The ROI is different for each customer. The ROI potential for some companies is significantly higher for some companies than others. Q: How does social media impact search engine optimization (SEO)? A: Social media helps drive search results. Search engines like to see inbound links from sites that receive a lot of traffic, so social posts linking to your website via social media sites will positively impact your site traffic. Q: Do you think there is a one-size-fits-all social media strategy for each industry? A: Every company is different and there will truly never be a one-size-fits-all social media strategy. That doesn’t mean you can’t leverage content or best practices, but your key messaging will be different from your competitors (or at least, it better be different from your competitors). Consider 100 different law firms that offer estate planning. While these firms may share some of the same tips, every firm is run by a different group of attorneys, all with different passions and hopefully different positioning. Really, each firm should have a slightly different take on each idea. Q: How will social media help small businesses achieve marketing and sales success? A: This goes back to the discussion regarding ROI. If you think about the stages of buyer readiness, social media can make someone aware that you are out there, since birds of a feather flock together. If you have a community of people that are interested in what you have to share, the network effect will bring more people like that to the conversation. Once someone becomes a connection, they learn more about your organization over time, which will lead to consideration. If you use social media to promote your goods or services, you may very well bring trial. And if your customers try you again—if they repurchase—hopefully they will ultimately become fans that refer others. Social media is just one tool in the marketing toolkit, but during all stages of buyer readiness, it can help turbo charge word of mouth marketing and move your organization forward. We hope this gave you insight into some great next steps on your pursuit to use social media for success in your business. Thanks again for being a loyal reader of our Predictably Better newsletter. We’ll be back next month!