Why are many small businesses still not convinced social media works? It baffles me. The statistics confirm its success, but the individual stories are really telling. All you need to do is ask my dog groomer.
I have two very spoiled shih tzus. How they’re treated at their groomer is of paramount importance to me. So when the groomer I loved for years sold her business to someone who didn’t provide the same level of caring service, I started searching for a new provider. That’s when Bark Avenue caught my eye on Facebook.
Bark Avenue posts the cutest pictures of their clients on Facebook nearly every day. Being the dog lover I am, the photos sucked me in and I “liked” their page. But it was more than just the photos, I could tell by the owner’s postings that she really cared about her four-legged clients — it wasn’t just a business for her, it was a passion.So I made an appointment and my husband took the dogs. It was a match made in heaven. Even though Bark Avenue is not as conveniently located for us as some other shops, I trust them and feel as though I know them because of our relationship in social media. Of course, I’m a real proud momma when they post photos of my little angels.
The bottom line is people do business with those they like and trust. Social media provides a significant platform for small business owners to build rapport with clients and potential clients without breaking the bank.
The key is to be consistent and authentic in your messaging. People want to hear your voice and interact with you — not some canned material. That’s what makes Bark Avenue’s social media strategy so compelling. It’s real.
Creating your own social media strategy isn’t tough, and it doesn’t really cost anything, but it does take a commitment. You need to be present and participating on a regular basis. How much time? Many small businesses find 10 minutes a day to be sufficient. Surely you can allocate that much time to building your customer base.
You also need to integrate social media into your overall marketing strategy. Make sure your messaging is consistent and that you demonstrate your market value. Bark Avenue’s message resonates clearly. “We’re dog owners, too, and we care about your pets as if they were our own.”
Finally, remember it’s a relationship game. I’m immediately turned off by camouflaged sales messages. Bark Avenue doesn’t talk about their products and services. Rather they share real experiences in real time — which is all I need as a real dog lover.
How can social media help your small business attract customers and keep them coming back? Are you ready to invest a little time to build your customer base? If you are using social media to promote your business, are you pleased with the results?
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.