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10 must read social media resources for SMBs

If there’s one thing that I’m often asked by small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) here in Wales it’s questions regarding social media. “What is it? Why is it important? How can I use it to market my business? How will I find the time to fit it in? What if someone writes horrid things about me?” I think you get the scenario.

social media bandwagon

Know your desired destination BEFORE you ride the social media bandwagon

It’s difficult to answer these questions in an off the cuff and concise manner – how would that be possible? I end up babbling away… “well, it’s good to build your brand, it’s great for customer service, can be fab for PR, & is increasingly useful for SEO”. Yada, yada, yada…

Truly understanding social media, and the role it can play in marketing and developing a business often requires a paradigm shift – for big businesses this might mean understanding social media and its place in todays online marketing reality, with smaller businesses this shift might concern time management and how to ‘fit it all in’.

SMBs often have an advantage over bigger businesses – many of them really ‘know’ their customers, not because they have employed a marketing agency to create expensive customer profiles, but because they actually interact with them, every day. They know how to talk to them, they’re often very in tune with what they think, how they make choices, and what’s important to them. With this in mind, and armed with the insight and knowledge gleaned from these 10 social media resources – SMB social media success is totally achievable!

Here are the 10 social media for SMB resources that I heartily recommend for any small business that is serious about reaping the business rewards of utilising social media to meet their business objectives.

Hubspot facebook guide

1. Hubspot

Hubspot write a great blog, plus produce free whitepapers and podcasts that provide solid, jargon free advice for those new to social media.

Check out the facebook for business guide for starters

2. Small Biz Trends

A fab site aimed at small businesses in America, but despite being US centric many excellent posts are totally transferable for UK based SMB’s. Fantastic, accessible advice on all matters social media (and in fact all matters relating to running a small business) but in particular this post might be of interest: the ultimate small business twitter list

3. Twitter 101

Twitter published this twitter guide for businesses to help them get started with using the Twitter service. It covers the basics of Twitter, the lingo, and includes case studies.

4. Mashable

Mashable might be thought of as as primarily an online spank fest for tech and gadget fans, but lurking between the unofficial photos of Google’s latest phone are some awesome introductory guides on many of the social media platforms that are so effective for SMBs, including guides to twitter and facebook. Dip in and out of the ‘how to‘ section for the lastest hints and tips, like how to launch a successful twitter contest.

5. Outspoken Media

I’ve been reading this blog for a long time, I really like the way Lisa Barone writes – funny, snarky and to the point. Oh, and real. Lisa guest blogs for small biz trends, but you’ll find some of her best writing on the Outspoken blog. Go straight to the small business marketing section for some delectable tidbits ona range of social topics including building buzz for your business and online reputation management via social media.

6. All facebook

OK, this list might be starting to appear pretty facebook centric, but since I did a little online research of the SMB’s I know regarding which social media platform they used most I figured that we’d spend a little more time exploring here, as according to my sources this is definitely where many small businesses are spending most of their time (results to follow – interesting reading!). If anything changes with facebook and how you can use it to market your small business ‘All facebook’ is where to read it first; like this morning when they published a post on how publishing a facebook page just got even easier.

These blogs and whitepapers will give you a great FEEL for social media, and if you read them regularly you’ll be able to stay on top of changes and tweaks made to these platforms. But if you’d like to delve a little deeper, which you might need to do if you are finding the actual ‘concept’ of social media a challenge, then dig into these three – you won’t regret it!

inbound marketing

7. Inbound Marketing

Co authored by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan (co founders of Hubspot) this is a really accessible text. The premise is that traditional, broadcast, outbound marketing has been replaced by more narrowcast, ‘inbound marketing. This is a totally readable text, full of anecdotes and vignettes illustrating what this means to businesses, and how you can make best use of social media to communicate with your customers and potential customers in the ways that THEY want to be communicated with.

8. The new rules newrulesofmarketingandprof marketing and PR

Written by David Meerman Scott, this book is good for complete newbies to social media. Although like some of his other readers I take issue with some of his generalisations about marketing, it’s a really useful book to start with if the idea of using social media for your business brings you out in a cold sweat and causes your heart to palpitate.

9. The new community rules: marketing on the social web

I heart Tamar Weinberg, she is a genius. Fact. Apart from being a great curator of seminal social media marketing blog posts she wrote this excellent book which I think is an awesome intro guide for SME’s to each of the most important social media platforms. Read it and discover which tactics work – and which don’t – by learning about what other marketers have tried.

Did I say 10? Oops, that’s 9! Please add your favourite social media resource for SMB’s below. This post has ended up being rather twitter and facebook centric…got any suggestins to help fill the gaps?


25 Comments

  1. Wow- congrats Ms. Carlile! This is a great introductory list and as we discussed at lunch the other day there is often a need to refer to this sort of thing so hopefully this will save you some time and trouble next time you need to point someone in this direction.

    I think the “what if someone writes something horrid about me” is a great point and one that warrants its own post (which I will leave to the experts) but it can be a bit surprising and overwhelming the number of companies of all sizes that jump head-first into social without any clue about how to make the most of it and end up wasting a lot of resource handling complaints. It’s always good to head into this sort of thing with a plan that goes beyond a public sounding-board for complaints. Social can definitely give you and your business a thick skin but you’ve got to bring more to the table and take to the offensive with this stuff.

    Twitter seems to be the place where folks most often find their brand under assault if they’re lax about this so the guide you mention is definitely a good starting point for any business headed in that direction!

    Thanks for the resources m’dear and take care!

  2. Hi Claire,

    every here and there you’re prove my right choice following you, with a very good blog-post. This one I love particular because it’s an example of good SMB marketing approach. SMB’s have no time for time consuming projects, therefore they can actively include UGC (user generatet content) as You have gratly done with you 10th recommendation.
    And because SMB’s have not enough money for big and expensive video production, they can use the best viral media out there: Youtube. If you visit our Youtube channel escapeosijek you’ll see how SMB’s can generate visits with acctually very very low budgets (two beers budget).

    For example, two Croatian musicians (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlVbEclPj4c) have played Micheal Jackson’s Smooth criminal on cello. Their video has been shown 0 day = 300 views, 1st day = 15.000 views, 2nd day = 178.000 views, 3th day = 550.000 views, 4th day 850.000 views, 5th day 1.350.000 views and today, 6th day (today) = 1.700.000 views. They now recieved a contract to play in Alert Hall, Metropolitan, Scala, Japan, South Corea …. Very few people knew them a week ago.
    Therfore my addition is: SMB’s have to use Youtube (with other social media)

  3. Thanks lovely. So many businesses are scared of getting negative customer feedback via social media, so their strategy is often to cover their eyes and their ears! I always point out that if people want to leave negative reviews they will do so, regardless of whether or not the business has a social media presence. At least if they are active on the relevant social media platforms they have the chance to be part of the conversation, to shape customer expectation, and to potentially turn someone from a complainant into an evangelist. It DOES happen, I have seen it!

    Nice post on twitter for customer service on Mashable: http://mashable.com/2009/05/09/twitter-customer-service/

  4. It’s good you mention Customer Service. So often businesses dismiss social media because they can’t figure out how it’ll generate sales, forgetting that good service will help with retention and keeping products sold.

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