There were three sessions that flowed in themes of Listening, Participation and Creation. Here is a summary of what was learned and how it small businesses can leverage social media.
First Session: What is Social Media and how can you make it work for you?
Theme: Listening and Monitoring
Summary: Social Media is rewarded by search engines because content is updated all the time. This beats traditional sites that may be more powerful but they have static content. Dell went from -49% brand perception before blogging and has gone to -21% after they started blogging.
Traditional PR was about controlling your brand. Now, if your message is not aligned with your brand people will talk about it and there is nothing you can do about it.
For small businesses, Social Media is cheap cost-wise but expensive resource-wise.
Small businesses should leverage the power of Crowdsourcing to capture all the ideas or thoughts and collectively people can help you uncover the trends and desires of the market.
Use technologies to monitor your brand and also your competitors. Use RSS to create feeds and follow alerts in a more regular basis.
Greg Cangialosi from Blue Sky Factory notes the tools of the Social Web:
David Troy says that Social Media has old roots. Early examples include Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) and Community Forums. People are tired of one-way conversations and you really should look at tools that you use in your business as those that create a conversation and not a broadcast.
Second Session: How do you use Social Media?
Summary: There are so many tools out there; you should try as many as you can to find what mix works for you. It is important that you differentiate participation on a personal level and a professional level.
Unfortunately, many times they cross over. For example, when you interview for a job, an HR person might not only Google you but look you up on LinkedIn and Facebook. General social networking sites could do harm to you if you participate in the wrong way with your comments, or pictures you post.
Using these tools is great at a macro, national level but what about the local markets so someone in a small business like a Regional Biz Dev person can use this?
It is not different than targeting at a vertical but you must move toward Geo-targeting with your campaigns. Geo-targeting is basing your campaigns by location so you can measure impact at a more micro level.
The theme of participation is that you always need to create content for the “outside”. Before communications where always thought to be private. You should set the tone that this is for the outside so that when you do publish content that it is not hard to put the information out there.
There is also a fine line in promoting yourself and your product/company. You need to balance yourself and not go over the top in using the tools.
Third Session: How do you analyze and measure the ROI of your Social Media efforts?
Summary: One key way for small businesses to create word of mouth marketing is to market through influencers. Using tools like blogs are free and the content is easily shared and distributed becoming your virtual personal relationship. You can track conversations that have been created through services like Summize.com.
Measurement using these kinds of tools is critical and things like page views and user subscriptions are just the beginning. If you can find people who could potentially use your products they could be the traffic funnels that you never expected.
Whenever possible, were ever you spend a lot of time, try and build a following and make the investment so that you too can become the influencer that others creating content will come to you when the time is right.
For more information about GBTC and future events check out their site.
Shashi Bellamkonda from Network Solutions was on the Social media 101 panel and could not attend due to jury duty.Google+