September 14, 2011 / by Chris Pilbeam

Couldn’t make today’s #VocusChat? Really? Wow. It sucks to be you. Peter Shankman shared TONS of useful tips and tricks and now you will never see them again.

I’m kidding of course! You know we have you covered. I had a great time chatting with Peter on some of the issues and opportunities facing small businesses. Even @Mortons joined in on the conversation. Take a look at some key takeaways here. Enjoy!


What are some tips for small business owners who are just now testing the waters of social media?

PS: LISTEN first. Dedicate some time each day to listening first. Only then can you start to respond.

Better than just listening, see what others are doing, both positive and negatives – Who’s doing it right? Copy them. Who’s screwing up? Do something different. But anything is better than nothing.

Finally, reach out. The worst thing in the world is a company with an online presence who doesn’t focus online. USAirways is an example – They have a Twitter account that tells people to reach out to them through their website, because they don’t answer on Twitter. Um, huh?

The best way to find out what your clients/audience wants is simply to ASK THEM. ALWAYS be asking.


You’ve said time and time again that you’ll never hire a “social media expert” – why not?

PS: Hire a marketing expert. Someone who knows about MARKETING, and focuses on generating $ through MARKETING, including social media.

Marketing will save your business. Not social media alone, not advertising alone, not public relations alone. Nothing works in a vacuum, not even a vacuum.

The companies that do the best in sales always seem to know that marketing as important as selling. Because of that, it’s impossible to do one without the other and expect to generate revenue.


What’s the number one issue you see facing small business owners today?

PS: The biggest problem facing small biz today is not understanding new rules of marketing. The inability to successfully market their company on a shoestring budget. The second biggest thing is to understand how their customers like to receive their information and give it to them in the way they prefer. The third issue facing small business today is the thought that they don’t have the time to do “all that marketing stuff.” That’s like saying they don’t have time to grow their business. Make the time. It’s not that hard.

You don’t need to be available 24/7 to provide stellar customer service. But you do need to be open to being reachable.

Many companies don’t connect marketing with customer service. Fact is, if the two aren’t 100% connected, your biz will fail. Provide stellar customer service, and you can do a billion $ in marketing on a shoestring budget.


How should we be using social media to get beyond the cool factor and actually grow our biz?

PS: Focus #1 on rewarding the fans you HAVE, and taking care of them. Doing that encourages new fans through ORGANIC growth, current fans raving about you.

Focus also on going so above and beyond, that customers want to talk about you. Remember, customers love talking when they have “I’m cooler than you” news to share.

Give your customers ways and places to share so when they DO have a good experience, they’re more willing to talk about it.


How can small business owners who don’t have a lot of resources still increase their reach and get publicity?

PS: Again, focus on the fans you have. Treat them so well, they tell everyone. See the @mortons story as an example.

Give customers who have been wowed a place to talk and share, a place to tell other people how great you are and why.

Engage your customers on both + and – issues. Use communication to turn haters into fans, and fans into raving fans. It’s no longer about telling people how great you are. It’s about providing stellar customer service so your customers do it FOR YOU.


As great as one may think their brand is, unfortunately not everyone will feel that way all the time.

PS: Listen to your audience – look for those unhappy and engage them to learn why some people dislike you, no matter how hard it is. What you learn from that is massive.

Step outside your comfort zone. Have a google alert set up for your company name plus the word “sucks.”

If you don’t have haters, you’re not doing enough to affect change. But make sure you’re able to work with those haters to turn them into lovers. Nothing feels better in business than converting a vocal hater into a super-vocal lover. Work on that.


What are your suggestions on dealing with customer issues online?

PS: Know where your audience likes to get/respond to their information, and get to them appropriately from there.

Utilize specific audience members who already love you and let them act as ambassadors for you and your brand, and reward them appropriately.

Last point: Make sure all your comms are in some way FUN. Fun is infectious and will generate fans, loyalty, and revenue.


Well, there it is folks. Hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of #VocusChat. We’ll see you in 2 weeks!


Tags : Social Media

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