3 Ways Small Businesses Can Keep Up With Real Time on Social

Small businesses can keep up with real time marketing, but they have to work for it.

The general expectation right now requires all businesses to respond to customers in real time. That’s fine for the big dogs who have vast personnel and financial resources, but it’s a really high fence for small businesses to jump. So let’s explore some tips that won’t break the bank.                                  

There are three ways larger companies move at the speed of social and keep pace with their target audience in real-time: influencer marketing, sentiment analysis and amped up competitive intelligence. And although you can’t compete with their budgets, you’re good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it, clients like you! And there are creative ways to compete in each area:

Influencer Marketing

Building excitement for an event across a wide spectrum of social media platforms is a given when you’re a big name, so it’s probably not surprising that the United Nations was able to execute a social awareness campaign with stunning stats. Or is it?

The massive interest and engagement around its recent #ForgiveForPeace hashtag got extra oomph leveraging Influential to “assemble a team of elite social influencers to serve as honorary Youth Ambassadors,” and resulting in “1.5 billion impressions (500 million reached) and trends on Twitter in 14 countries, including a No. 2 trend in the U.S., as well as over 22,000 pieces of user generated content.”

Can you create an influencer marketing effort like that on your own? No, but here’s what you can do: Network. It’s all about who you know, or more precisely — who knows you. Sure, a tool that’s consolidated these influencers for you is great, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recreate some of that at a lesser scale with a big of legwork.

You already know you should be following people in your industry on Twitter; linking with them on LinkedIn; and interacting everywhere, including their pages on Facebook. But if you’re not doing it strategically, it’s wasted effort. And that’s all well and good for B2B, but what about B2C? More on who to connect with specifically for each will follow.

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis is understanding what your audience is feeling, why and how it relates to you. It’s finding adjacencies and opportunities you weren’t otherwise aware of and using that insight to inform marketing strategy.

Hope Nguyen, vp of marketing at Netbase, elaborated in a blog post:

Consumers are happy, hungry, angry, loving and hating everything — and posting about it. Social intelligence mining can uncover it, but brands need to make a concerted effort to sift through that emotional data to see where there’s common ground for connecting.

And although real-time sentiment analysis is fantastically effective, connecting meaningfully and consistently with your target audience can create fantastic results for the rest of us too. Who is this target audience that you should be connecting with specifically?

  • If you’re B2B, you need to be strategic about connections — and you should be focusing on LinkedIn. Find fellow executives who are active online and employed at the big firms with the resources you’d want. Follow them closely and let them pay for the analytics, and piggyback on their findings. If you connect with insightful folks, you can spot and hop on trends ahead of your similarly positioned peers.
  • If you’re B2C, find your influencers on Twitter and cozy up! It’s not enough to just stalk them – you need to interact with them. Have conversations, get their feedback. Let them know you genuinely appreciate their insight and that you know them (keep notes on what they focus on besides your brand). And there’s something to be said for creating offers specific to influencers you have a relationship with, versus blanket promotions offered out-of-the-blue by a faceless company. Do not underestimate the power of feeling known in this online abyss.

And if you spend 15 minutes keeping abreast of what is happening in your industry and participating in conversations, you’ll not only understand what’s happening and why — but influencers will be more likely to watch you as well. And when it comes time to amplify your message, you’ll be on point with latest happenings in your space and more likely to attract that organic boost that all marketers crave.

Competitive Intelligence

Competitive intelligence naturally flows from doing what’s mentioned above effectively, but beyond that, you should become familiar with Google’s advanced search options, and definitely Google Alerts. Why? It’s free and here’s what you can do with it using the right search terms:

  • Monitor your brand: Set up alerts to let you know every time your business name or website is mentioned online.
  • Monitor your competitors’ brands: Keep tabs what is being said about the competition – what are they doing right, what are they doing wrong, and then leverage that to your advantage.
  • Monitor your niche: Pay attention to the questions that are emerging in conversations about your product or service. This will help you to position yourself as the expert and build brand loyalty.

And once you have those set up, take the time to understand IFTTT and all it offers for both monitoring and generating awareness of your brand. That’s a post in itself though – that someone already wrote for you right here.

Readers: How are you proactively connecting with your audience? Or are you waiting for them to connect with you?

Image courtesy of docent joyce on Flickr.