Podcasts

The Power of Social Media and Content Marketing for Your Small Business

Small business owners often become overwhelmed with content marketing and social media. Susan Guillory, President of Egg Marketing, gives tips and tricks for small businesses looking to build a social media presence and get started with content marketing. Businesses should be strategic and regularly check analytics and experiment to find the methods that work best.

 

TRANSCRIPT

Greg: Our guest this week is Susan Guillory, President of Egg Marketing and Communications, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She is the author of several books, and has written on several issues for Forbes, AllBusiness, and Tweak Your Biz. You can follow her on Twitter at @eggmarketing. One of the goals of Egg Marketing is to take the pain out of marketing for small business owners, and that is exactly what we’ll talk about for the next few minutes, with a special focus on social media and content marketing. And Susan, it’s great to have you with us. Thanks for your time today.

Susan: Thanks Greg, it’s great to be here.

Greg: Well let’s start with explaining--in pretty basic terms--what social media and content marketing are, and how they work as a strategy for a small business.

Susan: Well, I think now any business is going to understand social media at least from the personal use. So, we’re connecting with people online. From the business perspective that’s such a valuable tool because people are online looking for information, they’re looking for answers to questions, they want to know what their peers think of products, and they want to get smarter. Social media and content marketing are really great tools for brands because they can reach these consumers and establish themselves as experts in this field and get found in Google searches and whatnot when people are searching for answers for those questions.

Greg: So it sounds like when you’re running your business, your social media strategy is kind the same way in the sense that you’re providing value for someone and therefore they’ll appreciate that.

Susan: Absolutely. Value is the key word when it comes to social media and content marketing these days.

Greg: Let’s look at the plusses and minuses here. First of all, what are the benefits when social media and content marketing are done right?

Susan: I’d say you have the potential to reach other people who wouldn’t otherwise have found you. If you’re showing up in search results because you’ve got some really informative blog content, those people may not have stumbled onto your site in another way. Same with social media. A lot of times you’ll see a friend refer a brand or an event, and you say, “Oh, I didn’t know anything about them, but now I’m interested. So that’s one benefit. Here’s an example of that. For my business, I write a lot of content on small businesses on sites like Forbes and All Business, and I get a lot of referrals that way. So people read my writing. They wouldn’t have otherwise found my company, and they want to hire me to do the same thing for their brand. So it’s great for awareness with the big wide world of the internet to be found in more places.

Greg: What about the downside? What are some of the common mistakes folks can make?

Susan: How long do you have?

Greg: (laughter)

Susan: I think a lot of smaller businesses think that a) they have to manage these aspects of marketing themselves, or b) it’s way too expensive to have someone else do it, so they just don’t bother. If you have the time, the skill, and inclination to write regular blog posts and update social media, I encourage you to do so. But, what I see, and this happens often as people are not being honest with themselves, if you only have time to write only one article per quarter, you can’t expect results from that, and marketing is a pain point for you, you have to admit you’re not the best person for the job. It’s not as expensive as a lot of business owners think. You can hire a writer to write, say, ten blog posts a month, or hire a social media firm to spend five hours a month updating your account, you just pay for those services that you need rather than having to hire a full-time marketing employee which a lot of small businesses can’t afford.

Greg: What’s been the process for you as you develop the marketing for your own business. What things have worked? What things have you had to tweak over time? What kind of learning have you done in terms of what folks respond best to? You mentioned you can’t just do one a quarter. Some people might think three or four a day is a lot. A lot of people might be fine with ten a day. How do you balance that?

Susan: I think you really have to pay attention to results. My personal blog--I have a lot of guest writers there, and we’ve found that between three and five posts a week gets the most traffic. We kind of play back and forth if we increase that number, how does that look. But one of the best strategies I’ve had--and I’ve mentioned it briefly about writing on Forbes and All Business--is that I write for sites that are already established, and they look for guest contributors that are experts in whatever field. For Forbes, I’m writing about small business. And because I’m writing on all these different channels, if you Google my name, you see a slew of articles that are coming out. And the benefit of that for brands is that you start to see the same person representing Brand X--Didn’t I just read an article from this guy? And you start to see it and go, he knows what he’s talking about, I need to reach out to him to hire him as a consultant or whatever industry he’s in. But I’ve also done a lot of guest blogging that’s resulted in nothing. So I pay a lot of attention to--do those sites send me traffic. And after a few contributions, if I’m not seeing any traffic from a given site, then I won’t continue that effort. So it’s really about measuring and paying attention and tweaking your strategy.

Greg: So that leads well into the next question. How do I know if what I’m doing is working? In response to the social media campaign [example], it is obviously good. How do characterize the response, though? Is just interaction good? Do you actually want to see people asking you, wanting to pay for your services? How do you gauge it all?

Susan: It depends on the business. We have a lot of different metrics. If you go into Google Analytics--it’s a free tool. I recommend any business owner spend just a few minutes just understanding the basic functions. But you can see that Facebook is sending X number of visitors to your website, or Twitter is. That gives you an indication that what you’re doing on social is driving traffic to your site. Now what you do from there, and what your site looks like is going to affect whether those people turn into customers or not. But with social media, the argument was ten years ago, what is the ROI? How can you measure the return on investment when you have a like or a share or a tweet? It becomes a little harder to measure. But if you define what you’re looking for, like, it seems every time we post something we get a lot of shares, we see an uptick in traffic to our site or sales--that is what you need to pay attention to. It may be shares, it may be comments. You want to foster good communication with your community--in that case you want to pay attention to comments on your social shares.

Greg: We’re talking to Susan Guillory. She is President of Egg Marketing and Communications based in San Diego. And Susan, in passing, in couple of the earlier responses, you talk about some of the problems small business owners may have in this department. Let’s go over some of those in the time we have. First of all, some might find it overwhelming, and some business owners might not be able to devote much manpower to content marketing to social media efforts, and they might not know if they’re any good at it. What advice do you have for them?

Susan: I say just don’t give up. A lot of times I see a lot of businesses don’t bother to market their business, either because they’re overwhelmed, they think it’s going to cost a lot. Or, business is good, and I say don’t assume because business is good today, you don’t have to market for tomorrow. What you’re doing now is laying the foundation for the future. Social media profiles are free. You can set those up in a few minutes. I suggest starting by understanding which sites your audience spends time on. Likely that’s not going to be LinkedIn and Google and Instagram and Snapchat. But understanding which sites you’ll get the best value for. Just create one profile on one site to start with, and over time you can expand that. And updating it at least weekly. Kind of depends on which social channel you’re on in terms of what your frequency should be. But understand that the more you do, the more value you put into it, the better your results are going to be over time. Also, you can write your own blog content if you’re a decent writer. It takes dedication, because like I said, you can’t just do one blog post every three months and expect traffic coming to your site. But if you can consistently create content--I’d say at the very least two posts a month--and obviously, I’m a fan of weekly content. But Google will start to recognize that you’re creating great content, and you’ll start to show up in search results.

Greg: And that’s obviously a huge part of marketing as well to be on that first page, if at all possible. This next issue is one that I know some businesses deal with, and I know a little bit about where you’re coming from on this, and I love your perspective, and that is, I’m in a boring business. It’s one thing for other businesses to do social media, and they can talk about menu changes, big sales over here, and that sort of thing to get people to get excited about engaging with them. Other people might be running businesses that don’t necessarily do those sorts of things or have the opportunity to do those sorts of things, and so they think [what they do is] boring compared to what other businesses are doing. So, what do you say to dispel them of that.

Susan: I get this a lot, and honestly, if you’re in an industry, there [are] no boring industries. There is a market for every industry, and content and social media can play into I’d say just about any industry. But it’s about knowing the right channels. So, let’s say you make laser etching machines--I used to work for a company that did. You have to understand who you’re trying to reach. So, those are the businesses that need laser etching machines. They have interest and questions, and you can address those through your content. They may not be on Facebook and Instagram, but maybe they’re on LinkedIn. And when you understand where they’re spending time to get the information in their industry, then you can target that. So maybe it’s manufacturing groups on LinkedIn. And then you can join these groups, contribute to the conversation, share links to your articles, and create value to that audience. It’s thinking, what questions do your customer ask, what do they care about. It could be, how soon can they recoup the cost of a machine like yours. Or, what other applications can they use it for. These are topics that, maybe if you’re outside the industry that’s boring. But, when you know your audience and who you’re selling to, these are the questions that create the fodder for the content.

Greg: Time always runs short with the most interesting guests, but we’re going to go a couple more minutes here. Susan, I want to get your thoughts on a couple more things. First of all, if there is one thing we’ve learned from doing this podcast over time is that keeping the status quo probably means you’re losing ground or will eventually. So, what are some ways to keep your social media and content marketing fresh, and constantly finding ways to find better responses.

Susan: I think it’s just being proactive. Marketing continues to evolve, especially with technology. Don’t assume that what you did last year will continue to deliver the same results. Keep an eye out for new tools and strategies, and take the time to learn something new. You might have been ignoring this thing called Instagram, but if it can help you reach more customers, shouldn’t you explore it?

Greg: And finally, you talked about several different tools. You mentioned Instagram, you mentioned Google Analytics. Any other resources you recommend for business owners just getting their feet wet in this area.

Susan: There are so many great blogs out there. Honestly, you can Google anything you want to learn about, but in general, I like Hubspot because it helps you market your audience (hubspot.com). Neilpatel.com can teach you a ton about great content and what the formats and templates are. And socialmediaexaminer.com is great for the latest social media trends that you can use.

Greg: Fantastic. And Egg Marketing is also a place you definitely want to check out. Susan, thanks so much for being with us.

Susan: Alright! Thanks, Greg.

Greg: Susan Guillory is President of Egg Marketing and Communications, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She is the author of several books and has written on small business issues for the likes of Forbes, AllBusiness, and Tweak Your Biz. You can follow her on Twitter at @eggmarketing. I’m Greg Corombos, reporting for CT Expert Insights.

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