Profit Minded

The first social media move you should make

When I met the marketing guru Mark Schaefer at a crowdsourcing conference in New York last week, I asked him what’s the most important thing small business owners should be doing on social media. I was surprised by his answer. It wasn’t Facebook or Twitter or Google+. He said, “Blogging.”

Marketing and social media consultant and author Mark Schaefer

It seemed to be such a retro bit of advice. To find out why he gave it, I followed up by phone with him this week at the Schaefer Marketing Solutions headquarters, his home in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains.

Schaefer says he makes the one-hour commute by plane from Knoxville to Newark a few times a month to teach marketing at Rutgers University. He also travels the globe giving lectures, teaching workshops, and consulting with clients large and small. He also offers $200 “instant consultations” by phone, and his work, including several social media marketing books (Born to Blog and The Tao of Twitter among them) got him onto Forbes' list of the Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers.

Here’s part one of our interview about why you should be blogging. Part two will appear here tomorrow.

Yahoo! SBA: I believe you told me that if there’s one marketing tactic a small business should follow it is blogging. Right?

Schaefer: Let’s back up first. There’s not necessarily only one thing. Every business needs to develop their strategy, and that begins with defining what makes you different. Who are your customers? What are their underserved and unmet needs? And how do you serve those in a special way?

If you spend some time up front working that question, I believe your marketing strategy and tactics will unveil themselves to you. You’ll start to realize, “This is what I do, here is the message I need to communicate, here is where my customers are, and here’ s how I need to reach them.” Then how and where you market will become clearer.

For many small businesses, there is a place for a social media component. But the first thing they should do is learn enough about social media marketing so they can make the right decisions.

TV ads, billboards, and newspaper advertising are options. Not knowing about social media is like trying to compete without knowing TV exists. You’re at a disadvantage. Learn enough about it so you can make an educated decision for your business.

For most small businesses, it’s likely that there would be a social media component. That leads us into blogging.

OK, so why blogging first instead of, say, Facebook advertising?

Blogging is a good place for small businesses to start because there are so many tangible benefits. One of the most popular articles I ever wrote, 10 Reasons to Blog, Even If Nobody Reads It, articulated the important powerful business reasons for blogging. It included insights such as:

  • “Hubspot research shows that sites with blogs get 55% more traffic than sites without blogs.”
  • “A blog is an excellent way to provide a constant drip-drip-drip of communication to remind [customers] of your products, services, and why you’re special.”
  • “Sure, you can sell through your blog! … This is valuable real estate! Why not use it? Wegman’s grocery store employees blog about seasonal recipes and show how to use their food products in new ways.”

My view is that to be successful in any social media strategy, you need to have content. The easiest and most accessible way to create content is a blog. It becomes the engine behind your social media strategy. Once you have content on the blog, you may chose to post that to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in an email newsletter to your customers. I view blogging as the glue that holds a lot of the social media tactics together.

See part two of our interview with Mark Schaefer for tips on blogging your way up the search engine ladder.

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