Short-term methods for growing your business
The first, and most difficult, task for a small business to do is to be discovered. Everyone is competing for consumers’ attention, possibly the same consumers. You think you’re the most important business on the planet while everyone else is thinking they are the most important. How do you speak louder than the roar of the crowd to be heard?
There are some short-term and long-term methods that need to be done concurrently to grow your business.
Here, we’ll be focusing on the short-term social marketing methods that will get you ramped up and started.
Find the right tools
Many businesses rely on Twitter search alone to discover similar users and what is trending. Searching on Twitter is a great first step, but not enough. It only provides you the information it believes is most relevant for you. You need to pay (ugh, I know) to use a tool that has firehose access to the tweet stream and will give you EVERYTHING, not a small selection of tweets that Twitter provides non business partners. Media-monitoring tool Mention has been our single most valuable tool in getting new signups. On social media, there are at least three new people per day asking for recommendations on CRMs. All it takes is a simple, relevant, and contextual response to receive engagement from someone.
Show me what tools you’re workin’ with
There are countless discussions every day on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and forums about things that relate to you. Go out and find them. We started on Mention by searching for anyone discussing CRM on Twitter. After reading through as many tweets as we could, we were able to figure out what other keywords we wanted to use.
In our case $CRM refers to Salesforce’s stock symbol and we quickly realized we didn’t need it. We did find that the words ‘suggest, recommend, need, looking, and want’ were all common words that people used when tweeting for help. As we said before, all we pay for signups is the monthly price of Mention, which is our most valuable inbound marketing tool.
It’s all about the comments, baby
After we were comfortable with the tweet stream coming in, we needed to branch out. As we stated in a former post, blog comments are another extremely valuable method to get traffic to your site. You need to be careful as not to go spamming blog posts, so choose where a post would be welcome and helpful while still linking back to your site. Having done this through Google searches previously, we decided to let Mention begin aggregating as many relevant blogs as we could find.
We have one filter looking for blogs that mention ‘CRM’ and another looking for ‘small business.’ We were provided over 2,000 blog posts from the past week and the list is growing every day. We sifted through our results and found posts that weren’t useful and so we did our best to focus our searches better, but there were still an incredible amount of posts to go through. We commented on about a dozen that made sense and provided value to the conversation, but we needed help.
We decided to hire a part-time college student to curate the thousands of blog posts and eventually help comment on them. For now, she is making a spreadsheet of every post that she feels where we could provide insight or value to the conversation, while still linking back to our site. We’re not trying to build links for SEO(since most blog’s prevent that anyway due to former Spam abuse), we’re merely trying to provide an avenue for someone who is curious about us to find their way back to our site.
Build Twitter awareness up, buttercup
While she’s building this list of posts for us to comment on, she’s also doing research on who the authors are, how often they write about topics we care about, building a list of those topics, and determining how influential that person is on Twitter. We’re focusing on mid-range authors who aren’t small, but aren’t so big that they would ignore us. We figure that way, we can provide value to them and they can provide value to us. A rising tide raises all ships.
Over time, we’ll begin following our list of influencers, commenting on their posts, replying to their tweets and getting to know them. This isn’t done overnight and you can’t expect someone to write about you the first time you reach out to them. Relationships are still very important, so while you’re doing short term work making comments, you should be working on the beginning stages of your long term work building relationships that will help your business in the future.
Collect visitor and lead information
As people find their way to our site and we see their interest in CRMs and other relevant topics on Twitter, it is very important to make note of any interaction for future follow-up. If we see someone has signed up for a trial, following them on Twitter to engage and check in is a great addition to an email; especially if their inbox is potentially hit all day with incoming messages. Everyone loves a new follower (in a non-creepy way).
In addition, as we interact with leads on Twitter (in our case, those asking about new CRMs, etc.) we can collect their information to follow-up and see how their search went, if they would like to sign up for a trial, or if we can get them any information to make their decision easier. Remembering they were searching for a CRM and following up can not only help build a relationship, but it also shows that we are invested in leads and proactive about giving customers what they need. We are here to make their lives easier, and that begins even in the research stage of finding a CRM.
They see me bloggin’
These short-term methods lead us here, to this blog. We use this blog not only as a way to keep our customers up-to-date with new releases and what we are working on behind the scenes, but also as a way to distinguish ourselves as experts not only in the world of CRM, but also in the world of small business.
You don’t just have to use your blog to announce company news, but should also provide useful content to your community. To vary your content, create themes and topics for your blog to cover and build an editorial calendar to stay on track.
Carry on with business my wayward son
These short-term methods for getting the word out about your company and product(s) lay the foundation for the long-term methods. These are more in-depth and include reaching out to the press and building your blog further with guest bloggers. Be sure to keep an eye on our blog for a post elaborating on these long-term methods, coming soon.
Do you currently use media-monitoring tools and build relationships in the social media world? We would love to know: which of these short-term goals have worked best for you?