Not too long ago I read an article featuring a recent survey which showed that the majority of small business owners don’t use social media marketing and don’t plan on implementing it in the near future. The article states that most business owners don’t see the benefit of taking the time to use social media when traditional marketing and word of mouth is much more effective. However, the fact is that not only is social media just as effective as traditional word of mouth marketing, the proper use of social media IS traditional word of mouth marketing on steroids. With a well thought out social media strategy, small businesses have a tremendous opportunity to boost their good will in the community. Mentioning a customer on Twitter and telling them thanks for coming in or posting something similar on a recent customer’s wall on Facebook or Google+ can in turn be seen by each of their friends and followers and have a huge impact, leading to potential new customers.

As an illustration, take a restaurant. At many restaurants the owner or chef will walk around and ask folks how their meal is or if they are having a nice time. This will make a very positive impression on the customers in the restaurant and very possibly convince the customer to come back. Social media provides the same opportunity on a much larger scale because you are not just making a positive impact on the people in the restaurant, but also on all their friends or followers on the various social sites. For example, many restaurants have a place near the register to drop in a business card for a chance to win free meal. If a restaurant owner, let’s say Jill at Main Street Cafe, were to take just one of those business cards at the end of the day, look the customer up on Twitter, and mention him or her in a tweet saying thanks for coming in for lunch today, then each of that customer’s followers would see it and have a positive impression of the Main Street Cafe. With very little effort, and essentially no expense, Jill has increased her business’s visibility in the minds of folks that might have never even heard of it. Certainly the fact that she took the time to thank a customer would have a positive impact on that customer’s followers and possibly convince one or more of them to come in for a meal. Now, to ratchet this idea up a notch, add into the equation the fact that the customer might now be more likely to tweet in the future about a good experience at Main Street Cafe. This would again be seen by the customer’s followers and again possibly convince one of those folks to give Main Street Cafe a try where they otherwise wouldn’t have. You can see how social media can be a tremendous word of mouth marketing tool.

Our fearless leader here at Red Clay is constantly reminding us that good business is all about building good relationships. That’s what we’re all about. We try our hardest to build good relationships with our clients, and in turn, we’re always trying to constantly think of new and innovative ways to help them build good relationships with theirs. In the end though, it all boils down to thinking about how to treat folks the way you’d want to be treated. A wise man once said that there is nothing new under the sun. Using social media ultimately is no different than thanking a customer in person, you’re just doing it in a relatively new way. The difference is that now you are potentially making a good impression on a lot more folks at once. And that’s never a bad thing.

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