As we edge into a new year filled with continued COVID fears and ever-changing protocols, it's hard for small businesses to feel optimistic about the coming months. Some have shuttered their doors forever. That's the very reason why we MUST create our own destiny and figure out how we can solve a problem for our customers and clients during this extended pandemic. Employees learned how to work remotely, fighting through new technology platforms. Students and teachers learned how to adapt to online learning.
While COVID has hurt many small businesses, it has also helped many discover how resilient and creative they can be. Small businesses took leaps of faith to retain their loyal customers by tracking ever-changing state and local protocols, embracing technology and thinking outside the box to serve their customers. Website overhauls now included e-commerce options as online shopping became necessary. Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, Shopify, Ebay stores and other auction sites replaced brick and mortar shopping. In-person workshops and events moved online using FaceTime, Zoom and other platforms.
I came across a social media timeline that brought back memories of joining LinkedIn shortly after it launched in 2003, then Facebook in 2005, Twitter in 2007, and Pinterest (still my favorite) in 2010. I joined Google+, but never liked it. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who lost interest in the platform as it was shut down for good in 2019. New platforms emerged - Snapchat, Periscope, Vine, and now TikTok. Two of these have already been shut down. An alternative platform to Facebook called Parler launched in 2019 and was forced offline by Amazon and Google.
So, what can small business learn from this ever-changing and fickle marketplace?
I spent many years facilitating educational workshops on social media and email marketing. At the beginning of most classes I showed a slide that featured a wheel. The hub of the wheel represented what we, as small business owners, controlled -- our website and our mailing list. The end of the spokes included all the various social media platforms. These are areas we cannot control and don't own. Now, more than ever, it's important to rely less on what we cannot control and bolster our relationships with our customers using our mailing lists which continually point back to our hubs - our websites.
I wish you much success in 2021.
The digital world doesn't stand still and finding ways for our businesses to be found online can be challenging. Google announced in December that Google+ is shutting down on March 7th following a data breach and low consumer usage. Each social media channel has a different appeal and demographic but among the top platforms based on usage are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Of all the channels, Facebook still has the broadest usage and widest demographic. However, small businesses are often frustrated with Facebook's algorithm which continually makes it harder to be seen in a crowded marketplace. The push to a "pay to play" model has made it difficult to use the platform without paying for Facebook advertising. Still, having a presence on Facebook makes sense for most small businesses in order to create brand awareness and relationships with potential users of our products and services. The good news is that Facebook is a quality not quantity network. Posting 2 or 3 times a week can be sufficient as long as the content is relevant to your audience.
Here are 5 ways to harness the power of Facebook for your business:
This is the story of how one small business took control of their online marketing and lived up to their brand.
The owner of a well established, family owned construction company was finding it difficult to keep up with everything he needed to do to manage his crews and find time to keep up with his marketing. He had a professionally designed logo, lettered trucks and a business card, but that is where things became a little messy.
A family member had created his website years ago, but it was riddled with typos and outdated information. He had a Facebook page, which included a snapshot of him standing in front of a wall dressed in a T-shirt and unshaven. The page sat abandoned with only65 likes, no posts and linked to a domain that didn't exist.
An online search came up with a few very positive Yelp reviews. Unfortunately, he never claimed his Yelp listing. and didn't know they existed. He had no Google listing which prevented him from being found in a search of his competitors. A Better Business Bureau listing revealed an A+ rating, and a YP listing was also unclaimed.
The owner also was frustrated and wanted to dump AOL as his current email provider, but didn't know what to replace it with. That's when he called me.
WHAT WE DID.
These changes helped a small business live up to the quality and the promise of its brand. They are now ready to take on the new year looking as great online as they do in person!
Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources.