Small to Mid Size Business Use of Twitter Doubles

No surprise to us at Freakin' Genius Marketing, social media has become an important marketing tool for small businesses, particularly younger firms: 32% of small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) in operation for 0-6 years use Twitter, compared with just 7% of those in business for 11+ years, according to a report from BIA/Kelsey. Meanwhile, Twitter use among small to mid-size businesses doubled, from 9% in 2009 to 19% in 2010.

The longer a SMB has been in business, the less likely it is to use Twitter, and those older SMBs (11+ years in business) are more likely to use printed Yellow Pages (37%) than those in business 0-3 years (17%) or 4-6 years (22%).

Additionally, and also not really a surprise, nearly one-half (48%) of surveyed SMBs use Facebook to promote their businesses—even more than the 43% of SMBs that report using e-mail marketin, with over one in five (22%) SMBs use blogging to promote their businesses.

So it seems, digital media is a largely integrated part of most small to mid size businesses' marketing plans. Is it part of yours? Contact Freakin' Genius Marketing today to create a tactical action plan for digital in your marketing.

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Do you know who your SUPER INFLUENCERS are?

Ok, so you have a database and, yes- I know how much it cost and how painstaking it was to get them to opt-in to your mailings. I also know how challenging it is to create emailings and social-media based promotions to keep their attention without encouraging them to opt-out because of a deluge of offers you might be sending them.

Have you customized groups within your email databases? By doing this you can define criteria that enables you to market 1:1 to each of your customers based on their individual purchasing habits and overall interests with you and your business.

By customizing groups within your opt-in databases you will be able to identify who your target markets for specific “products” or “services” are rather than blanketing your whole database. Opt-in or otherwise, deluging your customers with offers that they won’t relate to is not a way to keep them lively and responsive.

Additionally, and more to the point of this blog post, have you identified your super influencers? These are your customers who are not only likely to purchase something from you, or take you up on one of your email promotional offers, but more importantly these are the customers who will share your offer with others. These are your “virtual” testimonials who will pass along your emails and your blog entries.

If you haven’t identified who your SUPER INFLUENCERS are yet, you may be spending a lot of time facilitating social media that isn’t working for you. You may be FB’ing and Tweeting but without a great sharing ROI (Return on Investment) on pass-along.

You know I’m big on ROI…in fact, it’s my mantra. So let me explain.

Simply slapping up social media content and hoping it works to build awareness and drive sales is not enough. Many business owners fail to get maximum exposure for their social media campaigns because they don't take the extra step to activate viral sharing of their content. And if marketers don't identify their key influencers and motivate them to share, they're missing out on the real promise of social media: Social content works best when it's shared.

According to industry research, people who visit a campaign link after it's shared with them convert at up to four times the rate of those who just fall upon it by chance. So when you encourage sharing, you aren’t just increasing your reach—you’re dramatically boosting your viewer conversion.

So how can you get your following on Facebook and Twitter, as well as bloggers who love your products and services, to start sharing your content far and wide?

Here are three key ways to activating your key influencers to share more and more often:

1. Identify your Super Influencers

You know the rule, 1% of your social media followers are responsible for the majority of sharing. These "super-influencers" share your social media campaigns with their larger social networks, passing on links to your contests, promotions, deals, and other marketing campaigns.

These influencers are more than just fans, they're ambassadors. The process is fairly straightforward. There are a boatload of social media measurement tools that enable marketers to find the people who are talking most about their brand; see what type of content they're sharing and with whom, and learn how they are sharing it (email, Twitter, Facebook, their own blogs, etc.).

Once you find your influencers, the trick is activating them to share even more.

2. Activate Your Super Influencers

Once you've identified your super-influencers, you need to motivate them to share more. Do this by offering them "sharing incentives" that encourage them to share and reward them for their efforts.

One of the best incentives you can provide is exclusive information. Super-influencers love to be an inside source of information for their friends and followers—sharing contests, information, or deals with their social networks before other people have heard about them. Create exclusive content you share only with your super-influencers, and let them know they're part of a select few to receive this special offer.

Other incentives you can offer include shareable friends-and-family discounts, access to exclusive or after-hour in-store sales, VIP parties, and discounts for sharing a deal with 10 friends.

You will also want to comment directly on your super-influencers' blogs, link to and promote their content whenever possible, and publicly thank them for their loyalty via email or posts.

3. Measure Your influencer's Effectiveness

You won't know whether sharing is working to increase brand influence and drive conversion if you don't measure it. It's important to find out exactly who is sharing your content the most, who they are sharing it with, where they are sharing it (which blogs, sites, and social networks, or via email), and whether that sharing is directly resulting in clicks and conversions. You can use those social media measurement tools I talked about above to find out the exact impact sharing is having on bottom-line results.

Creating and publishing social media content is not enough these days. Business owners that want to benefit from the real power of word-of-mouth need to find their super-influencers, and then motivate them to share. If you do this effectively, such sharers will directly boost traffic to your site and drive a large increase in conversion and hence, sales!