Method Community



3 Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage Social Media

Good afternoon Method users!  

Alex the friendly neighbourhood technical writer here, coming to you from my home office where I'm flanked on one side by Kleenex boxes and on the other with teas, tinctures and Tylenol.  Yes, I've succumbed to the yearly autumnal head cold.  

Of course, like many of you I can't stand being unproductive, so it was a boon to me that our marketing department asked me to take a break from building out Version 1 documentation to write this blog post.  And, charmingly, my current state has afforded me not just majority stocks in tissue companies but also a topic for this post: namely, what to do for your business when you're stuck at home.   


Before working for Method, I spent several years working as a senior editor and campaign manager for an advertising agency specializing in social media strategy.  As a result I became proficient in the use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other popular platforms - and I was surprised to learn these platforms could be used for more than just sharing adorable photos of cats with hilariously misspelled captions.  In fact, I regularly saw the benefits of a strong, effective social media campaign for businesses of every size - my clients ran the gamut from independent musicians all the way up to big corporations like Pepsi and Volvo, and in each situation my team was able to leverage social media to benefit not only our client's current product launch or special, but also their ongoing relationship with customers and the medium at large.

So what does this mean for your small business?  

I'm sure you've heard all the self-styled “social media guru” rhetoric about how valuable Facebook can be to your business, and while it's true that maintaining a social presence can be a benefit, you have to know how to keep people coming back to your social spots - otherwise you're just maintaining real estate nobody is coming to visit.  Here are a few tips I picked up along the way.  Remember them the next time you, too, are stuck at home and aching to do some low-impact business improvement!

1. Providing Interesting Content

Think about the blogs you read regularly, the Twitter accounts you follow, or the Facebook pages you visit.  What brings you back to these locations over and over?  Chances are, it's great content - stuff that's interesting, engaging, relevant, and quick to digest.  Most importantly, it's not all material that has to do directly with you or your business - much like in real life, consumers and potential vendors alike won't bother sticking around if all you do is talk about yourself.   So what's interesting?  It depends on what kind of business you're running.  The key is to provide content that's high-quality (it's never good practice to link to Joe's News Blog when Reuters or Forbes has a similar article) and relevant to your business field.  If you're a tech startup, you might want to post about the latest high-tech bauble released by the geniuses at Apple.  If you're a restaurant, why not post a story about the latest culinary craze in Paris?  That's not to say you shouldn't post about yourself - far from it - but the trick is to find a balance between self-advertisement and content that will keep your client base coming back.  And that means…


2. Knowing Your Audience

You know, better than anyone, what your customers and partners are interested in, right?  After all, you work with them every day.  But even if you don't, there are a few universal truths about the average viewing public on the world-wide web.  

  • First of all, your customers and vendors are businesspeople like you - they don't have time to read “War and Peace” every time you post content.  Keeping it simple means keeping it relevant.  
  • Second, there are certain formats guaranteed to appeal to the reader on the go: most notably, the much-touted list format (think “The Top Ten Ways To Teach Your Dog To Type”, or “The Five Worst Hummus Recipes”).  It's quick, easy to digest, and entertaining.  Sometimes, entertaining even wins out over informative, but I won't tell you whether that's the best way to go with your online presence, because I don't know your audience (you do!)  
  • Third, people don't like to be bugged - if you're updating your Facebook page or Twitter feed a hundred times a day, unless you happen to be really good at content management, there's a good chance you'll drive people away with the sheer volume of your posts.  Try to remember that quality is always better than quantity: providing one interesting post per day is worth far more than filling everyone's news feeds with every list you've managed to drudge up.  Of course, if you have found that many things to post, you're doing something right... 


3. Knowing Your Stuff

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not telling you that you suddenly have to become an internet expert overnight.  But it does behoove you to know where to find good content fast, and the easiest way to do that is to watch your own behaviour.  If you're interested in something from a business standpoint, there's a good chance your customers and vendors will be as well.  Don't spend a lot of time on the web?  Don't worry, there are plenty of people who can help you out.  Signing up for a Google Alert can help: just plug in the keywords you're interested in and Google will email you with pertinent stories every day.  Or you can take a cue from social media sources you're already following - it's a good idea to follow industry leaders with your profiles, because they often employ people specifically to hunt down content.  Don't feel bad about “reblogging” (posting material other people have already posted) - the trick isn't to be the first person out of the starting gate, it's only to keep up with the race.  If you know how to distinguish interesting content from chaff, and you know how to apply that to your audience, you're already ten steps ahead of some pretty major companies (believe me!)

Ultimately, I can't tell you whether or not maintaining a social media presence will be good for your company.  Like all advertising, there's an element of chance and risk, and some people don't feel it's worth the investment.  But I can tell you this much: the great thing about social media is that it costs you nothing to maintain other than a few minutes out of your day.  You have very little to lose, and if you bear these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to establishing yourself as a forward-thinking, tech-savvy, Web 2.0 business - and there's no way that can be a bad thing!

Now, if you'll excuse me, my wife has made me anti-cold soup and I have to go online and find out how to hook it up to an IV drip.  *sniffle*

Happy trails,  


Twitter: @MethodCRM



mlongacre said:

Hope you feel better soon Alex!

October 7, 2013 5:47 PM

About Method_Alex

Alex is a veteran writer and editor hailing from Toronto, Canada. He is an honours graduate of the University of Toronto’s Specialist program in rhetoric and composition, and has written for a variety of interests including advertisers, live media, academia, and a variety of news outlets. When he isn’t translating tech-talk for Method CRM, he can be found playing in his band or reading to his son.