"Communication with constituents and customers in the digital age is a piece of cake", said no small business owner ever. Managing conversations with large populations while juggling life, a full-time job, and a small business is a daunting task, even for the most driven among us.
At a recent conference, two communication experts shared industry insights to create buzz around your product. Jason Jones, Senior Publicist for PR By The Book, and Jenn Depaula, Co-Owner of Mixtus Media, discussed PR and marketing for the practitioner. I strongly suggest connecting with them.
Here is my take on implementing a practical social media strategy for a small businesses. First, let's look at the numbers.
You wake up at 6:00 a.m. and cease functioning at 10:00 p.m. You have 16 hours in the day. You work full-time. That's 8 hours on the job. You have a family. It takes 2-4 hours to get people ready for school and bed, feed them, and tend to details. You spend 1-2 hours driving to work, errands, and family functions. Eliminating any leisure activities, you are left with 2-4 hours in your day. Your small business easily absorbs that time. How do you manage a beneficial online presence?
1. Write a plan.
Your website is your hub; your home online. It should be a source of information and a machine to drive social media. Planning your site is essential. I have two published books and one pending - each on a different topic. With a diverse product line, how do I create an all-encompassing site? First, define your brand. My brand is Seed Planters where we grow people and communities. Second, create categories. I have three: growing people and teams through leadership training, growing communities through non-profit fundraising, and growing individuals through faith and healing. Finally, plug in your products. I sort my books, keynotes, and workshop topics into those three categories. After you chart out your brand, categories, and products, design your site. Sometimes its easier to begin at the end. Look at your products and seek a common thread. The thread becomes your brand.
2. Write a blog.
Somewhere on your site, you need a blog. Offer helpful information in your area of expertise. Use each blog to highlight your brand, categories, and products. Study strategies for effective blogging. It's not the same as writing for other mediums. If you can't blog, hire a freelance blogger or intern to do it for you.
3. Affiliate your site with social media and SHARE.
Disclaimer: I'm new at this. Maybe that's a good thing. Once a week, I write a blog then share it across mediums. A link on Facebook. A post on LinkedIn. A teaser on Twitter. I may add more mediums later. I continue to share other information and build my audience through networking, but the blog drives new traffic.
So, what now? You can do this! Chart out your web site and grow complimentary pages through social media. It took me 6 hours on a Saturday to plot my strategy, build my site on Weebly, and streamline my media, then an hour or two once a week writing posts and sharing info. It feels manageable. Start today!
Pamela Witter is the founder and owner of Seed Planters, an author, professional fundraiser and speaker. Learn more at www.BeASeedPlanter.com. Find her on Facebook at Seed Planters.
You know me. I was that kid. The one who hid in the back of the closet with pen, paper, and a flashlight. The one who stepped through the threshold at the public library, closed her eyes, and inhaled. The one who had serious cravings for the pen; cravings that made her fingers ache.
It's no surprise, when I published my first novel, I broke down in tears. It validated all those hours pouring my heart out on paper, studying journalism, giving poetry readings, and editing the student literary magazine. Even though I never got a job with Rolling Stone Magazine like I said I would, this was enough. I had arrived.
So, what happened after my first book was published? Why doesn't everyone know my name? The truth is, thousands of books are signed by publishing companies every year. Yet, few authors become household names. Here are 3 practices for new and aspiring authors I learned along the way.
1. Position Yourself For Work BEFORE Your Release Date
My biggest mistake with Hope Rising was not preparing myself with a personal brand and marketing plan before my release date. New authors, even those backed by the publisher's marketing team, need to take a grass roots approach to promotion and sales. My publisher reached out to the media and set up a few book signings, but in the long run, I generate most of my leads. That means I had to start a business to sell my books and collect sales tax. I needed a business name and brand, a web site, and a pitch. There is momentum surrounding your book's release date, so all of these things should be setup in advance. My third book is coming out in 2016 and I'm working hard NOW to be certain I am ready.
2. Network. Network. Network.
If you are a recluse and don't have the funds to hire a full-time publicist, you will find it difficult to sell books. I just returned from a two-day authors and editors symposium in Nashville. A couple dozen authors gathered to share their struggles and their best ideas. Everyone agreed, connections lead to opportunity. We help one another. Nearly every book talk, keynote, or workshop I've secured, came out of a relationship. They didn't come from an ad I placed. That means sometimes I talk for free. I go to yet another lunch meeting. I respond to all the emails in my inbox, even the seemingly unimportant ones. It means setting up robust LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages and staying active on social media. It means being present in the community.
3. Be a Life-long Learner.
We writers may be experts in our field, but we still have lots to learn. Just last week, I listened to an incredible woman named Anne Freedman teach a session on public speaking. I was blown away! After taking Anne's workshop, I understood why some of my speeches brought the audience to their feet and others put them to sleep. Even for experts, learning should be a life-long commitment. Be sure to set aside time to visit with other writers and small business owners, to attend conferences and workshops, and to scan the bookstore and web for topics of relevance. The more we grow as professionals, the more ready we will be when opportunity arises.
Pamela Witter is an author, speaker, professional fundraiser, and founder of Seed Planters. Visit her today at www.BeASeedPlanter.com.
Pamela Say is a published author, fundraiser, and life-long student of leadership. Browse Pam's blog entries for possible conference session or keynote topics. Pam customizes training opportunities for her clients.
Email me at BeASeedPlanter@outlook.com.