Yes, your craft beer is awesome, but talk about something else on social media

Small businesses all over the world are using social media (primarily Facebook and Twitter) to market their business’ product or service and connect with customers, as my first post demonstrated with the seven craft breweries in Chicago: Dry Hop, Atlas Brewing, Finch’s Beer Company, Pipeworks Brewing Company, Revolution Brewing, Haymarket and Begyle Brewing Co. As much research demonstrates, small businesses, often with tight budgets that leave little to no room for advertising, can benefit greatly from using social media correctly as “cashless promotional campaigns” (Kaikati, A., and Kaikati, M. 47).

The problem is that research and usage also show that many small businesses do not have a plan in place for how and why they are using the social media tool, as Sam Dickey recommends as part of his tips in “Small Business Lessons: Getting the basics down” (22). This plan not only includes knowing which channels you want to promote yourself through, but also who you are marketing to, what exactly you are marketing, how you will attract followers, the image you want to create for the brand, and the type of content you will make.

For every small business, the type of content you put out on social media can have a major impact, both positive and negative. So, it is important to “add value” to any conversations, whether started or continued, that you participate in (Lacho and Marinello 132). And, just as no one likes to talk to someone who only brags about themselves, no one likes it interact with a company via social media if it’s all about them and there is no mutual benefit.

The last post I made pointed out that one of the challenges for small businesses is generating content, especially this content that is not promotional of just your own business and views. Such original and promotional content – expressing one’s one views only and promoting only the company’s services, other social media platforms, products, etc. – offers little benefit to anyone but the company, and it surely does not encourage users of social media to engage with the business. It’s therefore important that small businesses engage with users and others in the industry with a mix of content types, including promoting content other than their own, or what I will call “outside content.” Continue reading