How to Think Big as a Small Biz with Social Media

Social media has allowed two key things to occur:

  1. Brands, and even CEOs, can now engage directly with their audience.
  2. Small business and startups have the chance to market like the big boys.

When I worked in a corporate PR agency implementing multi-million dollar campaigns we didn't have social media, and, it has since, changed everything when it comes to connecting with your audience. Now, small business and startups can come up with their own kind of PR campaign that will attract media and grow awareness through social media.

What do I mean? Let's look at one example:

Got Milk?

I can only imagine what the Got Milk? campaign would have looked like in its heyday with the help of social media, in conjunction with PR and advertising. I can imagine the number of teens posting pictures of their walls covered with Got Milk? ads on Facebook (a contest we actually held); not to mention the speed with which call for entries for a number of contests would have spread in general; college students across the country interacting with the Got Milk? Mobile, spreading the word and posting photos on Twitter; moms sharing how they get their kids to drink milk; even the leak of the latest celebrity mustache photo session videos.

This all started with one simple idea that any small business can develop and take viral.

Today, all it takes is a little creativity and the ability to develop something that connects and is relevant to your company. Companies like yours do it every day and you can too with some these tips

  • What do you want to accomplish? Get your brand out there, increase engagement, increase sales, all of the above?
  • Define your target audience and what matters most to them about your company. This will give you a starting point for the next step as well as understand how your audience will most likely engage with your company.
  • Brainstorm. There are no bad ideas in brainstorming, just the one's you cross off. Gather your team for a session that will flush out that perfect, creative idea and messaging that your audience will connect with, along with prizes, how to win and how the campaign will end...all the details.
  • Plan it out. Just because you have the idea doesn't mean you put it in play tomorrow. It takes planning to create a successful campaign. You really have to think through how it will go, what messages go where and how long will it last. Maybe your campaign will attract media'll need time to put a PR plan in place, as well as advertising like Google Adwords, Facebook ads, etc.
  • Management. A campaign like this can require all day, daily monitoring. Define who on your team is going to be fully committed and responsible for managing the day-to-day of your campaign; creating reports, engaging will all users, etc.
  • Make a big deal about your winners. You've created so much hype through the campaign you don't want to end it like a wet noodle. Use the new following you've created to celebrate your winner(s) and toast your success!

Jennifer Fortney is president of Cascade Communications, a boutique virtual PR and marketing communications company in Chicago focusing on small business and startups. In her 15+ year career she has worked with some of the top Fortune 500 companies and a wide variety of small businesses and startups across the country. A journalism major with music minor from the University of Kansas, she is also the PR Instructor at SCORE Chicago and founder of @MyStorySource live media pitch feed on Twitter and Facebook. @SmallBizPRXpert

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