Neal Schaffer lives and breathes social media. As the head of Maximize Social Business, he’s an expert on how to use social media for business marketing and finds some of the best writers on the web as well. Neal took a few moments to discuss social media and what it means for your business.
Tell us a bit about Maximize Social Business. What made you decide to found the site?
I had my own personal business website, which included a blog called Windmill Networking. Like many other business blogs, I began to receive messages from other bloggers who wanted to contribute their content. I began accepting so many bloggers to contribute that the website took on its own life as a collaborative blog.
How has social media changed small business marketing?
Social media has leveled the playing field for small businesses in a way that the Internet did two decades ago. The problem, though, is that many small business owners don’t see the potential ROI for being active in social media, or companies simply don’t invest enough resources in order to be effective and truly maximize their social media presence.
On the other hand, for those small businesses who shifted more of their marketing budget from traditional marketing to social media and have had success, they have found social media marketing to be a natural way to develop leads, find marketing partners, establish thought leadership, and engage their customers.
What do you recommend for a business building a social media strategy?
1) Determine your objectives for using social media to be as clear as possible.
2) Create metrics/KPIs and measure how well you are doing on a regular basis.
3) Create a daily or weekly workflow and measure how much time you’re spending and what you’re doing.
4) Regularly take a step back on a monthly or quarterly basis to see the results of your work, and regularly tweak your daily workflow so as to maximize your effectiveness.
What are some common misconceptions businesses have about social media?
Right now, 93% of companies with 100 or more employees are already using social media for marketing. So we have come a long way in terms of companies originally thinking that social media was a waste of time and had no ROI. The current problem is that most companies, especially small businesses, seem to be going through the motions vis a vis social media but not taking a strategic approach – meaning that they are just doing social media but don’t have a strategy and therefore don’t have any specific business objectives, aren’t measuring the right things, and really aren’t deriving the maximum business value that they can obtain from their social media presence.
How should a business handle a problem going “viral” on social media, especially one that’s a legal situation?
It’s important that businesses at least monitor what is being said about them on public platforms such as blogs/websites, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and review sites such as Yelp. Facebook and LinkedIn become a bit trickier to monitor unless you have a Company Page, in which case you can monitor simply by looking at your notifications.
Historically speaking, Twitter is where a majority of so-called “social media crises” seem to be. This is one of the reasons I recommend companies at least establish a presence there, monitor for mentions, and build a community of fans who will naturally come to your rescue when problems might happen.
When it comes to a legal situation, you obviously want to make sure you are consulting with a legal team that is well versed in social media and can help guide you through the legal issues vis a vis social media.
Where do you see social media marketing heading in the next few years?
I think there is so much in the here and now that small businesses can be doing to Maximize Their Social that I honestly don’t like to discuss the future, which is unpredictable. But I can tell you that there are some specific trends that will continue to be powerful into the future: the emergence and power of visual social media marketing, the importance of creating unique content for a website’s blog as well as social media presence, and the increasing Pay to Play landscape in social.
Keep up with the latest from Neal on Twitter.