As published today by a leading PR trade magazine

Start Small Again; How Small Businesses Can Become Social Media Adept

By Ronn Torossian

Naturally, I relate easily to small business owners. Most small businesses in the U.S realize there is “something” about social media and online marketing, but are still extremely hesitant in treating it as seriously as their other operations. It’s a good idea therefore, to make sure that you do your research when you are planning on starting a business. You might find that you need to get things like local citations. However, there are loads of things that you will need to consider. The reality is that things like creating a large Instagram following is critical to business success. This is why small businesses should genuinely consider using an instagram bot in order to get a head start. I share that notion from a PR standpoint – where social media is now an integral part of any PR plan, with different models suggesting different outcomes.

The Ami-Partners research group reported the results of a new study they conducted under the title, “2010 U.S. Small Business Marketing Activity and Spending Study: Where and How U.S. Small Businesses are Spending Marketing Dollars.” Unfortunately, social media in these businesses is the responsibility of the existing marketing division and staff. The greatest challenge, though, is the time resource these staffers and managers lack, which directly impedes any possible social media planning and implementation. The bottom line: the majority of U.S. small businesses still prefer and resort to the more familiar methods of phone directories before they consider a mode change.

But, there is a stronger factor kicking in: the economic downturn. AMI predicts that U.S. small business social media marketing will accelerate in the near term as one of the effects of the downturn. Marketing initiatives were lower this year overall than the year prior across all types of marketing operations. When budgets do return to these activities, though, they are projected to reflect a strong social media component in them.

There are 6.3 million small businesses registered in the U.S today. If they all approached social media like advertising savages, we’d lose the whole point of “social” and be left merely with “media” – as simple as any other familiar media till now. Social media was not meant to be an advertising and aggressive-marketing channel. There is more than enough TV for that.

For an effective adaptation by small businesses to social media, there is a need to check things out step by step – as small as these steps may be. We’ve been applying smart new media strategies for our clients over the last few years. Here is some insight I would like to offer:

1. Don’t fall into the temptation of selling something through your social media channels. Yes, people are present, but they’re tuned out of advertising slogans. To get a sense of what social media is about – even for your business pages – go back to your own private profile and skim through your connection’s posts. How often do you see people selling each other products or services? Almost never. What you witness is conversation and virtual interaction. Start a relatively private conversation with your followers; be a little informal about what they feel, read, and know of your service

2. I recommended that you designate a person, team, or division – depending on your business size – for new media planning and implementation. It requires and deserves special attention and consideration. Yes, it can include different marketing initiatives that run occasionally, but that’s not a necessity. As you become more new media adept, you will find that marketing models on social media are based on totally different “rules” than the more traditional ones you are used to – even from recent innovations like direct email marketing. People have different expectations.

3. Reflect some of your daily thoughts and whereabouts. People need to be reminded that behind every Facebook business fan page, every twitter profile, and every business-based YouTube page there is a person, not a “bot.” The best way to show that is to share something “human” like your feelings right out of a meeting; the details of a hectic day; or a curious question regarding other people’s opinions.

4. Remember the often forgotten advantage of new media: a two-way communication channel. In contrast to advertising and newspaper reading, it is only through emerging new media that communications can go both ways. Engage your audience, accept and expect feedback and reactions, and encourage debate and product-related discussions. As you are a small business, you may not have the amount of followers you are hoping for. But this all comes with time. If you are someone who wants to see faster results though, it might benefit you to look into sites such as https://buzzoid.com, where you can find a solution to gaining more followers on social media. You won’t know if you don’t try. This might make all the difference to the way you then start to communicate with your audience.

Whatever you do – start small, start authentic, start today. Use that same spirit that got you this far in the game to play this whole new and exciting field.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.