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Social Media for the Little Guy, Tips for Small Businesses from SES San Jose

Posted by on August 12, 2009

I just sat in on a panel at SES on “social media for the little guy” which featured:

  • Jennifer Evans Laycock – Director of Marketing at Site Logic and writer for Search Engine Guide
  • Billy Jo Waara – Lawrence and Schiller
  • Ron Jones – President/CEO at Symetri Internet Marketing

Here are my notes:


Small business approach – not social media marketing, it’s social media conversations.  Don’t worry about being on the bleeding edge.  Spend your time and effort on sites/platforms that are already established, don’t run towards the new shiny toy, go for the ones with a saturation point, otherwise you are going to exhaust yourself.

SM is important in recession.

There are 3 launch points (excluded Facebook because everyone else is already talking about it, not because it’s not valuable)


Very strong community.  Images are a universal language that can evoke passion points. Get emotional connection with people.  If you do anything visual with your business you need to be on flickr.  Share photos on same topic and have conversations about them.  Flickr is also a great way to drive traffic to a website.  A lot of flickr users are also bloggers.  You can use bring the community offline as well by inviting them to events and interacting with people.


Create your own listening board: messages you want to hear, messages to you, messages about you.  Great way to

get to know a blogger for a blog pitch.  Great and fast way to get a message out to a community and a large group

of people.  Also great for conversational insight, take the pulse of the community.  Can also use it as a news outlet.


Content ready made to go viral.  Embed and spread messages.  Cheap and affordable way to spread a message if you have some creativity.

Billy Jo Waara

Social media is all about measuring digital dialogue.

Step 1:  Define your goal

match the goal with the metric

goal = positive opinions from customers      metric = sentiment

goal = increase traffic to website                       metric= engagement

goal = increase sales                                               metric= converstions

Step 2:  Set the Bar

What’s the starting point?  Benchmark and see where you are.

goal = increase recognition of business                                metric = brand awareness

Brand awareness means:

  • social popularity
  • friends followers
  • conversations and mentions
  • branded keyword search volume
  • viral reach

goal = positive opinions from customers                              metric = sentiment

Sentiment means digital reputation:

  • listening and responding
  • tonality of conversations
  • is subjective

Step 3: Execute the Plan

Step 4: Evaluation

Some free tools to use:

  • favorite tool for free brand awareness, “social mention”
  • twitrratr measure twitter sentiment, very subjective
  •  free and paid parts, compare yourself against others so you’re not living in a vacuum.
  • google analytics – setting up sales funnel.  Another way to look at conversion points and understand the sale.
  • tweet stats/twitter counter
  • She uses radian 6 (paid tool)
  • Other free tools trendrr and quarkbase


Social media is a tool for conversations to happen.


  • foundation for any type of social media program
    • customer needs/wants
    • find influencers
    • what are people saying about the competition/industry

Pay attention to various tools out there that allow people to find and review your business such as:

  • yelp
  • urban spoon
  • etc


  • take an active part in the conversation
  • set up an account on a social media paltform
  • start talking

Measure – critical component

  • what to measure
    • traffic
    • engagement
    • sales/leads
    • awareness
    • mentions

Dont hide behind a logo, be transparent.  People want to know that they are talking with real people.  You also have to remember to offer something of value.

These are my notes from the panel on small businesses can get started with social media.  At the very end of the panel I asked all 3 panelists to “define ROI,” not social media ROI, or search ROI, I just asked them to define plain old ROI.  The consensus I got back from the panel was that “it depends…”  It depends on what your goals are and what you want to measure.  Personally I don’t agree, there should be no confusion as to what ROI is and it doesn’t depend on anything.  ROI is ROI, it’s a constant, it’s a financial metric.  Just to remind everyone what ROI is:

(Gain from investment   –   Cost of investment) / Cost of investment

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