As suppliers to small business, we are pondering creative ways to engage our prospects and clients with social media. Popular forums such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are challenging to use, especially as ECSB research has consistently demonstrated owners do not want to be marketed to in this space. But, here is the good news:
While small business owners do not want to be sold to (by you) in social media, they DO want to hear – or at least do not mind hearing – from you. ECSB asked small businesses:
On which of the following social media networks would you want suppliers to actively participate in (e.g., communicating directly with you)?
Source: ECSB, Jan 2011, n=1076
From a personal perspective, users react to status updates and vacation pictures on Facebook. As suppliers, it is unlikely we can replicate (nor should we) the same human emotion elicited from a funny vacation picture. But, is there a way to prompt meaningful sentiment with an issue important to the small business community? Is there a way to engage prospects and customers that encourages potentially profitable or meaningful behavior? ECSB suggests:
Try engaging small businesses using motivators such as pain points (life stage or industry) to have them opt into conversations. Or, celebrate milestones of current clients that will serve as testimonials for them to their customers/prospects (and, in turn, for us to our clients/prospects).
- Celebrate with them using Facebook,
- Brag about them using LinkedIn, and
- Hold them up as exemplars using Twitter.
It is not about us. It is about them. Use public forums to demonstrate your support for small businesses and you will resonate more than you think. Make some ripples. Ripples make more ripples.