Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Keeping Personal Interaction in Social Media

Using social media as a marketing strategy can certainly be successful when managed correctly, but some small businesses still have fears regarding the big step it takes to give gives them global visibility. It is your job as a sales representative or social media manager to ease your clients’ worries by demonstrating that you will be with them every step of the way in creating a successful and comprehensive online presence.

Today, social media is a must for advertising local businesses. Using social media as a marketing strategy can certainly be successful when managed correctly, but some small businesses still have fears regarding the big step it takes to give gives them global visibility. It is your job as a sales representative or social media manager to ease your clients’ worries by demonstrating that you will be with them every step of the way in creating a successful and comprehensive online presence.

Don’t assume anything about a client’s prior knowledge about the web and social media. Ask your clients a couple questions regarding how comfortable they are with the Internet and try to get a feel for their web savviness. Many small business owners, especially those who have been in business for years, may be skeptical that an independent, social and online marketing campaign is the way to go. These clients have confidence in the traditional advertising that they have purchased for decades. Although they are probably interested in continuing with traditional advertising, discuss their social media options.  

Explain the pros and cons of a variety of social media options in terms consistent with your client’s understanding of the web and its functions. If your client has no idea what a “like” or a “trending topic” is, don’t talk in “Tweet-speak.”  If, on the other hand, your client is comfortable with web jargon, feel free to squawk about HTML or RSS feeds. Customizing your conversation to his understanding of social media will make your client more comfortable about handing over the reigns of his online presence.

Have resources available while you are meeting with your clients. Show them examples of successful and unsuccessful social media campaigns. Illustrate why certain strategies worked or why they didn’t. All in all, do your best to demonstrate that you have a good knowledge of social media and that you will help guide their campaign in the most successful way possible.

Let your clients know that there are a variety of options available to them. They can opt for a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile or variety of others, or a combination of any. Also let them know that there are a several different contract lengths that they can sign up for. Do your best to show your clients that social media is a natural progression in marketing and advertising, and engaging in new technology will help give them better visibility in the marketplace.

One of the major fears for small businesses is that “bad publicity only requires one irate customer. Folks who either legitimately experienced poor service or perceived that they did can vent about it on message boards and comment threads, thereby damaging a company's image in the eyes of the online community,” reports blog.myron.com. This blog also states however, that this issue has a silver lining because “actual responses to valid criticisms demonstrate that a company is willing to engage in dialogue and right a wrong. Thoughtful responses to misguided criticisms demonstrate to the community that the company's services aren't the real issue.” Let your clients know that part of the social media package that you are offering includes review mitigation, and that they will be contacted in the event of consumer criticism to manage a response cooperatively with the newspaper.

Make sure your clients understand that you won’t sell them a social media package and then say, “see ya!,” never to be heard from again. Let them know that you will be in constant contact regarding their social media and that you will be open to any changes in their marketing plan. Remember, it is your client’s social media, and he should have as much control over it as he would a traditional advertisement.

Finally, understand that while social media is an incredibly useful tool for many small businesses, it is not for everybody. If your client is staunchly opposed to social media, don’t push the subject. Inquire if there is anything else that you can help him with, and move on. You can always come back in a couple of months to see if his tune has changed. Major changes take time, and you don’t want to pressure someone who isn’t ready to take a big leap.