Find unexpected partners to help promote your business – part 2.
(Click to read part one.)
It’s a dilemma all small businesses face – how do you wear all the hats, juggle all the balls, and learn a few new tricks at the same time? When it comes to social media marketing, there are lots of ways to bootstrap your way to a strong online presence. In this post, we look at business development organizations – like the chamber of commerce, downtown association, or neighborhood merchants group. Helping small businesses succeed is the mission of these organizations. As your social media marketing partners, these affinity groups can help you get started and amplify your own efforts.
Business development groups as social media marketing partners
Are you a member of your local chamber, downtown partnership, or merchants association? Sure, there’s a cost to membership, but these groups are all about marketing and promotion. For the price of membership, usually just a few hundred dollars, you gain access to member benefits, local promotions, staff expertise, and a social media marketing partner from whom you can learn, grow, and leverage your own efforts. Let’s look at two examples of social media marketing partners:
Partnering for a better downtown grows small businesses
The Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP) advocates for a healthy and economically-vibrant downtown San Diego. “Social media marketing support is part of the Partnership’s member benefits,” says Staci Ignell, former DSDP director of external affairs. We repost and retweet member content, conduct regular promotions and events to bring people downtown, and serve as the brand manager for downtown – all of it with a strong social marketing presence.” Ignell advises small businesses to check out their local business development organizations’ social media marketing, compare it to their own needs, and talk to the staff. “We can’t do your marketing for you, but when we understand your business objectives, we can find ways to help.”
Not located downtown? Check to see if there is a neighborhood merchants association, business improvement district, or block group. Even in downtown San Diego, there are sub-districts like Little Italy that provide more localized promotion and social media support. As social media marketing partners, these merchant groups often conduct events and promotions that are effective at developing local business traffic.
Every day is a chamber of commerce day on social media
“What small businesses do well is build relationships and loyalty among their customer base. It’s the same for chambers of commerce,” says Linda Smith, president of the Lakewood (WA) Chamber of Commerce. “With social media, we can connect with our members and prospects at any time – 24/7 – providing up-to-date information, education, inspiration and just plain fun. Our online relationships are similar to our face-to-face interactions,” adds Smith. “Because we are open, welcoming, and supportive of free enterprise, our social media content emanates the same genuine qualities.”
“We use social media to congratulate new members, thank volunteers for helping make an event extra-special, recognize a member for receiving an award or distinguishing themselves as a rock star,” notes Smith. “We simply share their photo, tag them and see the “likes” and comments from their friends pile up. Our members love the recognition, and we take delight in showing them off!”
In addition to promoting and recognizing members via social media, the Lakewood Chamber helps its members learn about social media marketing. “We hold workshops on social media marketing. It’s a big hit with our members – it helps when you have a peer group learning together and supporting each other.”
A word of caution here – don’t think you can pay your dues and load these channels with your messages. Social media marketing is about adding value and creating conversations. Blatant promotional messaging and over-sharing will backfire. Use these opportunities to reinforce and support the purpose of the organization. You’ll build social affinity for your business by being part of the community.
Find your social media marketing partners
Look around your town or neighborhood – you’re sure to find business development organizations working to improve the business climate and grow small businesses. Get social with them, join, follow their social media activities, host events, volunteer, and let them know about your business goals and challenges. You’ll find a willing and able social media marketing partner, a role model to emulate, and a cheerleader for when you venture out into the social sphere on your own.
Coming next: Industry, trade, and professional associations provide promotional platforms, marketing assets, and other advantages for the novice social media marketer. Learn more about your potential social media marketing partners.
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Category: Advanced Tactics