Social Media is a fast-paced, ever-changing industry, so I know it can be overwhelming for small businesses. I run a small business on Etsy, and I used to wonder, am I posting too much? Too little? Am I annoying people? And then I realized, you just have to keep at it. You have to stay engaged, and you have to share your product – whether it’s a dental cleaning or a burger. What you don’t want is for people to forget about you. And not only that, you have to share the love. It’s important to like, share and comment on other companies social posts because we are all in the same boat, and plus, this is how you’ll grow your own online community (and audiences). Here are ten solid reasons social media is working and critical, right here in the Pittsburgh area:
1. Videos work – even in Beaver
Luckey Agency, a family-owned insurance agency in Beaver, PA, created a video that went viral in the Beaver County area. The video featured several local businesses, such as Cafe Kolache and Restyle, and focused on shopping small. It explained how shopping locally not only helped the companies drum up exposure and business, but also the community. By supporting all the local businesses, Luckey felt the love in return. Currently, the video has over 8,000 views and has been shared over 220 times. #shopsmall #shoplocal #shopbeaver
2. Candy instead of cavities
Two local dentists, Polished Dental and Hayner Dental, used a candy buy-back program as a way to bring in new patients. How do dentists and candy go together? Let me explain. They encouraged children to donate their Halloween candy, which was purchased for $1 per pound (up to five pounds). The candy was then shipped to overseas soldiers through a program called Operation Gratitude. Shipping over 50 pounds of candy this year, it was a win for everyone involved!
3. Giving back is always in season
Polished Dental also brought in new patients while giving back to Project Bundle-Up, a program that provides children and senior citizens with winter outerwear. From December 1 through 22, anyone who donated a coat was given $50 in dental dollars to use for upcoming dental services including whitening, fillings, implants, veneers and Invisalign. The coat drive was promoted through their various social media outlets, and raised awareness not only for a good cause, but helped bring in new business for Polished Dental. This year, they collected over thirty coats alone!
4. Burghers love their burgers
If there is one thing Pittsburgh loves, it’s food. In 2013, Burgatory used social media to beat 63 other restaurants to win Burger Brackets (the meat version of March Madness). At the time, the restaurant only had two Pittsburgh-area locations. Getting involved in this national competition led to calls from developers from all over the country, a second win in 2014, and the restaurant now has five locations in the Pittsburgh area. The important thing to remember is that social media can be free advertising – make sure you are utilizing it!
5. Cater to your audiences’ likes and hobbies
Imagine pulling an entire city into a giant scavenger hunt. That is exactly what The Andy Warhol Museum did to promote its newest exhibition, “Warhol By the Book.” More than 150 specially-designed books were hidden throughout Pittsburgh, and they created a website just for the book hunt that provided clues and tracked every book that was found. The museum, which also used Facebook and Twitter to provide clues, encouraged participants to post photos of their discoveries using the hashtag #warholbookhunt. We love seeing companies getting their customers involved.
6. #Hashtags for heroes
Ever wonder if hashtags really work? They might not change your business over night, but they are a great way to link all of your related posts together. For example, 412 Food Rescue, an organization that aims to fight hunger by collecting healthy food (that would otherwise be thrown out) and distributing it to community organizations serving those in need. The organization uses a truck to pick up large donations, but sometimes they need help, and that’s when volunteers come into play. Anyone who can drive their car or ride their bike to help move food to those in need is asked to help the cause, and 412 Food Rescue uses the hashtag #foodrescuehero to find and honor all volunteers on social media.
7. One tweet heard round the world
Ever hear of a small Pittsburgh start-up called 4moms? Yes, the same company whose product was featured on The Doctors and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The company, which manufactures high-end baby products because a social media prodigy almost overnight when celebrity mom Kristen Cavallari tweeted a picture of her son sitting in one of their mamaRoos. The company focused a lot on social media strategy and, in the end, it paid off. During that time, the 4moms Facebook page went from 7,000 fans to more than 19,000 and the site offered a conversation between the company and its consumers.
8. People still love to meet in person
In any industry, a seasoned, well-established company is who we look to for advice. ShowClix, which started as an event ticketing company, is now helping clients with other tasks associated with running an event. This year they launched Agent, a ticketing automation tool that can post items on social media related to event attendance. In addition, the company uses its blog and social media to teach its followers how to effectively use social media for events. Events are another way companies can boost sales and continue to engage consumers with their products and/or services.
9. Find what really matters to your audience
In the retail world, images sell. The Picket Fence, located in Shadyside, does an awesome job promoting their products online. They use Facebook to provide information about the shop, Instagram to showcase their various products, and Twitter to promote sales and events. It is the attention to detail across all social platforms that really stands out. And not only that, The Picket Fence uses each account differently, which is important. Twitter users look for quick information, while Instagram users like pictures. Facebook provides a platform for both. Learning the difference between all social media platforms can really benefit a company.
10. Look for the big picture
Although not a small company, Heinz is a Pittsburgh staple. In 2007, they put their ad campaign into the hands of their fans by asking consumers to submit a 30-second commercial via YouTube. America voted and the five finalists ran on national television. The one with the most votes won $57,000. The Top This TV Challenge is an excellent example of how you can get your fans, customers, whatever you may call them involved. There are all kinds of opportunities for competitions, contests, giveaways, etc. on social media. The key is to finding what works for your company.