Thursday, December 9, 2010

Small Business Success: How to Manage the Social Media Overload

Small business owners have felt the effects of the economic downturn as much as anyone and those who have survived the lean times have a universal skill…they’ve learned to do more with less.  That’s why I’m constantly surprised to hear about the time commitment for social media as a pain point for small business marketers.  In an effort to help ease the stress, here are a few pointers on how to make the ever-changing social media landscape a little more manageable. 

Stake your claim 

You don’t have to have an airtight strategy (or any strategy for that matter) to proactively protect your brand, so set up a company account for all of the major social media channels even if you’re not planning to use them now.  As the old saying goes “possession is 9/10ths of the law” and it’s extremely difficult to get a username back once someone else has claimed it.   The easiest way to check availability is to use a name check service like  It’s free and it only takes a few seconds to see what usernames are available on most of the major social media platforms.  This gives you the ability to select the channels that will best target your customers now with the flexibility to adjust in the future.

 Follow Your Customer 

Ask yourself, “where would my customer be looking for me online”?  All too often I hear social media strategies that consist of a statement like “we have to be on Twitter” without any explanation as to why.   These are exactly the types of statements that lead to the feeling of being overloaded.  Instead, determine where your customers are spending their time.  Are you a retail business where customers are looking for your newest products and offers or are you a B to B company that needs to nurture sales relationships with purchasing gatekeepers?  Let the strategic goals of your business dictate where you focus your efforts rather than chasing the next big thing.  If, retail is your business, consider Twitter, Facebook or other options that allow your customers to “stay in the know” and share news with their network.  If B to B is your focus, LinkedIn has variety of industry discussion groups where you can contribute or you can create a group for your industry niche.    

Work Efficiently 

Once you’ve identified a couple of channels where you’re going to focus your energy, look for tools to help you make efficient use of your time.  Tools like are free and will send you an email with all of your updates for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or MySpace at intervals you request.  This makes tracking posts and interacting with customers easier by having a single digest of all your updates in one place rather than having to constantly check multiple locations.

Like any other marketing initiative, a strategic approach to social media takes patience and research.  However, a small amount of planning will definitely help the small business marketer manage social media overload while connecting with new customers.  

Rob McChane is the AVP of Marketing Communications for the MN AMA and the Founder and Managing Partner of Digital Sherpa, an online marketing consultancy for small business.  Rob can be reached via email at, on twitter at @rmcchane or on LinkedIn at
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1 comment:

katty said...

Great post! Thank you so much for sharing such an interesting piece which is definitely worth sharing. Well, this is something that has to be considered.
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