Social Media for Small Business

Much of what I blog about is related to social media, and many of the people with whom I’m engaging online are other social media evangelists or people in health care who are interested in using tools like blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. And I think the examples we’ve been able to show through our Mayo Clinic work definitely show not only the potential of social media, but also the actual, real-world benefits, for large organizations. 

But what about individuals, or smaller organizations? Can they use social media profitably?

That was a question I addressed a couple of weeks ago with a young professionals group in Niles, Ill. So when I tweeted from the airport about my travels for the week and got a response from Tom Vanderwell, a mortgage lender from Grand Rapids, Mich. whom I had met previously through Twitter, I immediately asked him to share his experience.

When we talked by phone that night I asked him, “Do you get real business from your blog?” His response: “Well, today alone I got two emails from potential clients. One is in a state where I can’t do business, but I can connect the person to someone I’ve met through social media who has previously referred business to me. The other one I can do. So yes, I’ve definitely gotten business from my blog.”

I asked Tom to follow up with an email with some of the details about his blogging experience, and I’ve reproduced an edited version below.

Tom works for a large bank, so in that sense he’s not really a “small business” example, but on the other hand as someone whose compensation is based on business generated, he’s the ultimate entrepreneur. Many people like him invest in advertising to get people’s attention. I don’t know whether Tom advertises or not. But it seems his blog is a great way for people to get to know him and how he thinks, building trust in his perspective.

Here’s some straight talk from Tom about how he uses social media, particularly his blog, in his business, and the benefits he’s seen:

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Facebook 201: Secret Groups as Your Free Small Business Intranet

I have a friend who has become seriously SMUG and wants to use Facebook and other social media tools in her home-based marketing business. She has an organization involved in selling stuff, and wants to be able to communicate with people in her marketing network, which is widely dispersed geographically.

In essence, she would like to create an intranet without the corporate firewall.

If her team members all had a company email address (e.g., Yammer would be a great solution, and you can read all about it in the Yammer curriculum here at SMUG.

But that’s not the case in many small or home-based businesses, nor is it for my friend.

Let’s call her “Terri” (since that’s her name). One of “Terri’s” concerns is that when she does business-oriented work on Facebook, the things she posts get all mixed in with her personal Facebook feed. And while her business activities may not be super secret, she would like to keep personal and work activities somewhat segregated.

A Secret Group in Facebook can be a good answer in this case.

To use this, though, everyone in your group needs to be a Facebook “friend” — at least until you have invited them into your secret group, although there is a workaround, as I will explain below.

Here are the three steps to creating your free small business intranet, assuming you have already created your Facebook account. (You have done that, haven’t you?)

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