Small business owners often find it difficult to carve out the time to maintain their social media feeds, much less keep up with the latest trends, tools and rules to get the most bang for their online marketing buck. Last month, a survey of 835 small businesses, conducted by the Wall Street Journal, found that a whopping 33 percent spend no time on social media marketing, while 48 percent of those surveyed said they spend one to five hours per week on it. Like most small businesses, 60 percent revealed they did not have a specific employee dedicated to maintaining social media platforms for their companies.
But in South Florida, there are small business social media success stories all around us. From cupcake shops to furniture stores and hair salons for kids, companies are using a do-it-yourself approach to social media to engage customers and drive sales. Let’s take a look at five them to see what they’re doing right and what you can learn from them to make your social media marketing efforts a success.
Modern Home 2 Go
What it is doing right: This company, with two locations in Fort Lauderdale and Miami’s Design District, sells modern contemporary furniture. It uses its Facebook page to cleverly collect customer data and build an e-mail list. By creating a custom “Join My List” tab on the page, they’ve created an easy, non-intrusive way for current and potential customers to stay in touch. When you click on the tab, you don’t get the standard contact form asking you to fill out everything from your name to mobile number, there is only one simple box where you enter your e-mail address.
What you can learn from Modern Home 2 Go: Collecting customer data doesn’t have to be hard or intrusive. You can use social media to collect information from e-mail addresses to mobile numbers, but you can do it in a way that won’t turn consumers off to your product or service. Check out Modern Home 2 Go here: www.facebook.com/modernhome2go.
What it is doing right: Since 2009, owner Jose Cuellar and his wife Kristine Graulich have maintained their Facebook page themselves. “We do it this way because of the responsiveness factor,” said Cuellar. “By keeping it in house we’re able to respond to posts quickly”
At Buttercream Cupcakes in South Miami, Cuellar and his wife respond to most Facebook posts within minutes. “If we had hired a firm to do it for us, I’d have to call them, wait for the response and it would take much longer,” said Cuellar. “Instead, we’re able to post something new and interesting more frequently.”
What you can learn from Buttercream Cupcakes: Consumers love responsiveness and it’s an essential part of keeping customers engaged in social media. Don’t let posts sit for more than 24 hours without a response. If you can, try to get back to those who post on your page within the same day. Check out Buttercream Cupcakes here: www.facebook.com/buttercreamcupcakes. Mention that you read about them in The Miami Herald and get a free cappuccino today.
Cool Cuts 4 Kids
What it is doing right: This husband and wife owned franchise in Hollywood specializes in haircuts for kids. The couple handles their social media in-house and maintain their Facebook page with interesting posts that aren’t necessarily related to selling a product. “One of our most popular posts was from a third grader who had his hair cut in our store and mentioned it on a spelling test,” said owner Maggie Sarner. “The teacher texted a picture of the test and I thought it was so adorable that I just had to post it. I don’t believe in being too in your face with our sales. I like to tug at a customer’s heart strings.”
Sarner also posts flash sales that offer deep discounts for a specific time period. “One day, we offered a flash sale for $15 haircuts for a few hours on a particular day to our Facebook followers,” said Sarner. “It worked great and we got a lot of business in the door that day.”
What you can learn from Cool Cuts 4 Kids: Be creative in what you post on your social media pages. Remember that consumers are bombarded with sales pitches every day. Differentiate your pitch from the pack by doing it in a way that’s unique and eye-catching. Flash sales and photos of customers interacting with your brand are two great ways to do that. Check out Cool Cuts 4 Kids here: http://on.fb.me/12Ho8ue
What it’s doing right: Founded in 1993, this comic book store in Lauderhill uses its Twitter feed to not just tell customers about its products, but to entertain them as well. Each Twitter post features an interesting picture, a bit of comic book trivia or a link to something cool and engaging.
What you can learn from Tate’s Comics: Tweets don’t have to be boring. You should spend the time to make them fun and educate your customers at the same time. Throw in a bit of history about your company, an eye-opening trend you’ve discovered in your industry or a fun fact that your customers may not know. You can even turn the fun fact into a contest. Ask your Twitter followers a question and offer a prize to those that get it right. Check out Tate’s Comics on Twitter @TatesComics or https://twitter.com/tatescomics
Miami Culinary Tours
What it’s doing right: Many small businesses have been slow to adopt Pinterest, the relatively new kid on the social media block. But there are those that have embraced it like Miami Culinary Tours. This company offers tours of restaurants in South Beach and in Little Havana. To promote the company, it created 28 Pinterest boards featuring photos of the tours, the food and the happy customers enjoying it all. It also creates interest in their Pinterest by repinning and engaging with other companies in the culinary industry.
What you can learn from Miami Culinary Tours: Pinterest is an inexpensive way to showcase your product or service to the masses. Create boards and include at least three pictures in each. Use popular keywords to tag each board. Pinterest has a search tool that can show you the boards related to your industry. Be sure to repin photos from others and leave comments on other boards. Check out Miami Culinary Tours on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/foodtours/
For more great examples of South Florida small businesses doing social media right, check out the Herald’s Starting Gate blog!