Yahoo! Asks Gen Y Entrepreneurs How To Get The Most Out of Social Media For Your Small Business

Yahoo’s! tech section today has a very interesting article today in relationship to small businesses. Scott Gerber, a columnist for Entrepreneur, Inc. and Wall Street Journal, recently asked a panel of successful Gen Y entrepreneurs how small businesses can go about getting the most out of their social media marketing and how they can convert more of their existing social media followers into paying customers. Their answers cover 12 topics, including what kind of engagement you need, why you should seek to foster relationships via social media instead of simply blasting out marketing campaigns and why quality is always better than quantity (which I’m not sure is necessarily true, but that’s for another time).

Here’s one example, which is the response Gerber got in regards to fostering real relationships on social media over just straight marketing.

“First, you may want to rethink how you are viewing social media. If you’re looking for an immediate pop in revenue, you’re likely to give up quickly on social media and completely miss the larger opportunity it provides. Of course the broader goal of all marketing is to generate sales; however, if you show up on Facebook and Twitter simply to promote your product or service it is likely you’ll be ignored. Social media is about genuine interaction and building relationships. By fostering relationships, social media becomes an incredibly powerful tool. Provide interesting content that will generate buzz, provide helpful hints and unique discounts that are only available on Facebook or Twitter. Customers will appreciate the ability to participate in a dialogue directly with your brand and these interactions will show up on customers’ news feeds. The resulting brand exposure and word-of-mouth will ultimately pay dividends in the form of new customers.”

Anderson Schoenrock, co-founder of ScanDigital

I think the article is well worth your time, even though you’re not likely to agree with all of it. Not to mention that once you get done with the article, it will seem like you’ll have to spend all your company’s time on social media. But that’s not case. These are good lessons to learn and useful advice.

I’ll soon offer my own thoughts on this article in full, but for the time being, have a read.

A small business barometer for the times: Astoria, Queens

The New York Times has a very interesting article focused on Astoria, Queens in New York, and the small businesses that make up the neighborhood. It’s a compelling read because this current recession has wound up ending businesses in Astoria – like a fish market – that managed to survive the Great Depression and the 1970s fiscal crisis.

While that may sound incredibly gloomy, there’s also plenty of hope. An eyeglasses shop opened in a spot where rolls of carpets where once stacked. Three doors from the fish market, a Louisiana-style restaurant is planning to open soon, while across the street, a shuttered lounge has resurfaced as a Latin restaurant.

The eight blocks of 30th Avenue in Astoria act as a microcosm of how small businesses are faring as the economy tries to rebound. And the conclusion is that while things are not great, there are still many people out there with an entrepreneurial spirit and reminders that the economy isn’t completely defeated.

New York City’s small businesses, places with 100 workers or less, are the city’s backbone, accounting for 98 percent of its roughly 233,000 companies, according to the state’s Department of Labor.

Even at the height of the recession in 2008, small businesses provided nearly half of all private-sector jobs available in the city, more than they did in 1990, a study to be released by the Center for an Urban Future, a research institute, found.

“Small businesses are the only ones that have been taking chances,” said Jonathan Bowles, the center’s director.

Things, of course, are still difficult. In Astoria, about 30 mom-and-pop stores along 30th Avenue have gone out of business in the past two years. But there’s reason to believe small businesses and the economy are on the recovery. People – even in Astoria – are still taking chances and doing what they can to keep their businesses going.

One plumber’s offbeat (but highly successful) ways of marketing himself

One of the blogs that we fully very closely here at Buyful is Construction Marekting Ideas. The blog, started by Mark Buckshon is a true leader in terms of construction marketing. And today, he has a story that is well worth your time.

Mark introduced us to plumber Mike Johnson from Wisconsin. Mike’s been posting on the Contractortalk.com forums and a related blog, under the name “Mike’s Plumbing”, with some rather incredibly creative marketing ideas – including bringing kids along on door-to-canvassing.

Mike’s lessons that he’s sharing on Contractor Talk may sound kooky, but he has quite a record of success. Mark had the chance to speak with Mike and found out the ways that Mike works to get himself attached to the local community that he does work for. And here’s the most interesting thing. Mike’s primary way of marketing himself comes without any actual cost to his business. Instead, he works to get himself well connected in the community, where word-of-mouth referral is king.

It’s a great blog post, and well worth your time. And it may even give you and you small business some great ideas. There’s no direct link to the post, unfortunately, but it’s currently the first post on Construction Marketing Ideas.

Small Businesses Seem To Be Pleased By The Recent Election Results

With the recent election cycle completed, it’s time to take a look at how small businesses feel about the political landscape.

For the past several months, it has appeared that small businesses were beginning to become more and more optimistic about the economy. There were multiple studies suggesting this to be the case, but one had to wonder if the election would change that outlook.

Apparently it hasn’t. While it’s still very early, and no one knows what exactly Congress will do, according to a survey by Manta, the Web’s largest free source of information on small businesses, small businesses are now even more optimistic.

62% of those surveyed believe the new Republican controlled House will have a favorable impact on small businesses overall. 58% believe their own businesses will improve because of the election results.

In the company’s most recent “Pulse of Small Business” user survey conducted Wednesday of 1,189 small business owners and employees (the majority of them owners), 69% said the Obama Administration has hurt small business. Moreover, 58% of the respondents said they are more confident now that they will be able to grow their business than they were two years ago when the Democrats and President Barack Obama triumphed in the elections.

Admittedly this optimism seems a bit strange. To anyone who’s familiar with politics, we’re now in a situation where Congress will be ground to a halt, since neither Democrats or Republicans seem to want to move an inch. Partly for ideological reasons and partly just to make the other guys look bad heading into the 2012 election cycle.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think this is a particularly good scenario, and I don’t understand the optimism. But we’ll see how things progress in the coming year.

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