Small Businesses Take Heed: Social Media Basics Bring Big Business Opportunities!

February 29, 2012
by Rishika Luthra, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Toronto
Rishika Luthra

Rishika Luthra

In a very short span of time, the social media landscape has undergone a sea-change.  For example, Twitter — a platform which was, until recently, attracting audiences who wanted to know what their favourite celebrities are doing in real-time — now boasts of an eclectic community of enthusiasts who are more aware, involved and engaged. What’s more, we even witnessed Canada’s first “social media election” in 2011!

There have been inevitable changes on the economic front as well. Canada’s growth in 2012 will be slightly below average, according to Deputy Chief Economist Doug Porter, BMO. That said, there is no denying that, at present, Canada is a relative safe haven compared to other economies, running the lowest inflation rates internationally.

So how do you accelerate small business growth in our economic times? The first question you need to ask yourself as a small business is which area of your business do you want to be successful in? Is it lead-generation and sales? Or is it customer service? Doing a goal-definition up front is crucial because social media may be free, but your resources and time are not!

In short, defining success is the key point of measuring it, suggests a panel of social media experts who recently participated in a Social Media Week Toronto 2012 session, hosted by BMO (Bank of Montreal), in a room teeming with Canadian entrepreneurs.

Start with your customers

“Being able to identify your key customer helps determine where your message will resonate best,” suggests Julie Howlett, Account Director of Global Marketing Solutions at LinkedIn Canada.

Chris Eben, a partner at The Working Group,  believes in starting small, connecting with customers and doing it in a real, genuine way.

Set social media policy and guidelines

Liz Strauss, Founder of Inside-Out Thinking, strongly suggests looking to build a social media policy, regardless of the size of your business.

Identifying who is going to respond to the information you share is just as essential.

“Using Social Media platforms sans specific guidelines is another way of ensuring that things could go well out of control,” warns Chris Eben.

One of the best examples of a small business that gets social media right is two-year-old Toronto-based Sprouter, a company that provides entrepreneurs everywhere with a platform to connect and engage for commentaries on small business issues, emerging technology trends and startup-related enquiries. Erin Bury, Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter, recently participated in a Social Media Week Breakfast session hosted by Business Wire Canada.

Mitigate negative publicity by being open to feedback

If you are social, you’ve got to be open to feedback, which could be positive or negative. Lack of answering or being “present” within your community is going to be harmful.

Remember that negative comments come from someone who wants to argue or someone who wants to be heard. The idea is to disengage with the former while genuinely engaging with the latter. The power to turn negative into positive rests in your hands.

Social media is all about engagement and the coolest tip for you is to attend events like Startup Weekend, one of the best examples of validating an idea with a relevant customer base, according to Chris.

Now that you have the mantra to bring your business up to speed, remember that being good at social media does not guarantee success. Being good at service does!


Should my Small Business use Press Releases?

August 28, 2009

While it’s true that we count some very large companies among our clients, we are also mindful of the needs of startups and small businesses and provide press release distribution tools and services that can fit almost any budget.

EON: Enhanced Online News, one of our press release platforms, facilitates your news being discovered in a number of ways:

-An optimization tool which we call the Press Release Builder that helps you create or optimize your release for search engine performance,
-Distribution in Google News, targeted RSS feeds, and Docstoc.com
-Social sharing links that facilitate your release getting into the social sphere
-Multimedia galleries providing assets such as photos and video in multiple formats to interested journalists, bloggers, and consumers for easy redistribution.

Beyond that, EON enables you to embed images within your release, include active hyperlinks with anchor text of your choosing, and a website preview window with any website of your choosing embedded.

EON starts from $295 for lifetime release hosting.  Multimedia assets are $100 for the first and $50 for each additional.  Here’s two examples of EON releases which really get the most out of the platform:

Candle Lovers’ Dream Come True

Bluetooth Technology Gets Faster with Bluetooth 3.0

…and here’s a coupon for $100 off your first release.  EON releases can be ordered directly from our website.  Simply create an account at http://eon.businesswire.com .

Our metro wire circuits are also very affordable, starting at only $210 for a release under 400 words.  Take a look at your options and get in touch with a Business Wire representative near you (we have over 20 offices) if you have any questions or would like to get started.

Of course the world doesn’t revolve around Business Wire, and there are some great low cost or no cost ways of driving traffic to your site or blog include everything from actively twittering, participating in blogger communities such as BlogCatalog.com, writing guest posts through services like Bloggerlinkup.com, searching for PR opportunities on HARO (or our ExpertSource service), and studying up on everything SEO on sites and forums such as SEOMoz.org to name a few!


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