Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Jennifer Abernethy. Jennifer is America’s Sales and Social Marketing Stylist. After serving as an award winning executive with The Washington Post Company, Jennifer continued with a successful career in technology sales. In 2006, she joined the entrepreneur world and founded The Sales LoungeÔ. She is the author of the now ever-popular Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing. For more information, visit: www.SociallyDelivered.com.
SmallBizLady: IS SOCIAL MEDIA JUST AS POPULAR TODAY AS IT WAS BACK IN 2009?
Jennifer Abernethy: Yes absolutely in fact today many millennials use social media as the way to not only communicate, but to decide where to shop, eat, learn and whom to work for. Gen X and boomers are using social much more today professionally to work on their social brand.
SmallBizLady: WHERE DOES ONE START TO BEGIN BUILDING A STRONG BRAND ON SOCIAL?
Jennifer Abernethy: I believe it begins with the headshot. Get one that exudes your personality of not only where you are today but where you are going. We are in a visual social media space so it’s important to be seen.
SmallBizLady: SOCIAL CAN BE OVERWHELMING FOR A SMALL BUSINESS. WHERE DOES ONE START?
Jennifer Abernethy: A small business owner can begin by doing an informal survey. Begin asking prospects and customers what social media sites they are on and begin there. Also it is important to remember that your employees are your brand ambassadors. Make sure your teams social media profiles best describe your business too.
SmallBizLady: THERE ARE SO MANY PLATFORMS ARE THEY REALLY THAT DIFFERENT?
Jennifer Abernethy: They really are. YouTube for example, is the place to be – especially if you are targeting Gen Z or Gen X. They use this site as their search engine for information. LinkedIn is great for branding yourself to companies as an expert or talking to other companies to sell your products or services.
SmallBizLady: WHAT IS ONE THING THAT A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO CHECK OUT THEIR BRAND ONLINE?
Jennifer Abernethy: I would recommend Googling yourself. Google your name and/or your business name and see what pops up. If nothing? It’s time to get to work. If something is there look to see where it came from and ask does that reflect well on me and my business.
SmallBizLady: IS TRADITIONAL MARKETING STILL IMPORTANT TO A SMALL BUSINESS?
Jennifer Abernethy: One of the most traditional forms of marketing that is so important to a small business owner is networking. Yes, networking is marketing. By networking you are placing yourself out there in front of people. Then they will also begin to connect with you afterward on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook.
SmallBizLady: WHAT ELSE?
Jennifer Abernethy: I also like to see press releases go out. I think press releases are still great for SEO and online credibility. One time I spoke at a conference with a celebrity and I hired a PR firm to do a press release. Not only did it land in online newspapers around the country, it gave my social footprint a nice boost. So when people searched for me this article came up and it led to more speaking engagements.
SmallBizLady: SO IS SPEAKING GREAT FOR A SMALL BUSINESS BRAND?
Jennifer Abernethy: Yes, absolutely. Get out there and get on panels and speak. This is great content to share on social too. It tells the world you are serious about your business and you can be seen by not only people at the event you are speaking at but the information will most likely be shared online by attendees and by you talking about it on social.
SmallBizLady: WHAT ABOUT VIDEO?
Jennifer Abernethy: Social video is growing each day. As a modern business owner you cannot be afraid of getting in front of a camera. Whether it’s your iPhone, laptop, tablet or a hand held camera. Share tips, share your journey and post the videos on social. People will get to know you and that is what you want.
SmallBizLady: IS YOUTUBE THE ONLY VIDEO OUTLET THAT REALLY WORKS?
Jennifer Abernethy: No, other platforms like Facebook now offer live video. Instagram offers video and LinkedIn just launched video. Video will eventually take over, that is my prediction.
SmallBizLady: WHAT IS ANOTHER TIP THAT YOU AN SHARE FOR SMALL BUSINESS TODAY?
Jennifer Abernethy: Care. Don’t make your social marketing always about you. Talk about your business comrades. Share tips that will make people’s lives better. Offer good energy online. Follow up with new connections ask how you can help. I’m telling you if you do that, you will really stand out in a crowd of millions.
SmallBizLady: LAST QUESTION. TO AUTOMATE OR NOT TO AUTOMATE YOUR SOCIAL? WE HEAR SO MUCH ABOUT PROGRAMS LIKE HOOTSUITE AND BUFFER.
Jennifer Abernethy: If you think about it, automating social isn’t really social. I really don’t like automation at all. In fact, I never automate my social. I’m online when I’m online. I connect. I listen. I share. I acknowledge. I interact. I engage. You can do this too. Again, those that are truly “social” will stand out in today’s crowded social space and it will do amazing things for your business and brand over time.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz