Saturday, February 20, 2010

Using Social Media for Small Business

Good article in this morning's Boston Globe.

Creating buzz, one day at a time

Low-key, low-cost marketing hits social-media sites

Nate Small of Today Real Estate in Yarmouth paid $17 to two men on separate coasts to sport T-shirts with his company’s logo on Jan. 17: The man in Jacksonville, Fla., did so while spouting slogans such as “He slams prices on Cape Cod’’ as he dunked a basketball, while the Los Angeles man vacuumed his living room.

The two men, from, spent the day tweeting, posting, chatting, blogging, and recording online videos, sometimes talking about a Today Real Estate raffle, other times singing “Barbie Girl.’’ By the end of the day, Small, 36, had collected 75 new e-mail addresses to add to his mailing list.

“I just got so much exposure that day that I really can’t put a price on it,’’ said Small, noting that he’s lucky if he hears back from one person after mailing out 100 postcards.

Some local businesses have turned to, an enterprise of Florida resident Jason Sadler, 27, to give companies exposure on websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and The company is taking advantage of a wave of social-media marketing that is shifting the advertising landscape from a one-way mode of communication in print and television ads to two-way interaction between companies and prospective consumers on the Web and phone.

Social-media usage has doubled among small business owners in the past year, from 12 to 24 percent, according to a recent study by the University of Maryland and Network Solutions, an online provider for small businesses. But social media is not just limited to tiny firms. A study last year by Forrester Research Inc. found that 60 percent of 204 marketers planned to increase spending on interactive media.

The reasons for the shift are clear. Online and mobile marketing are far more affordable than TV and print ads, allowing small firms and big companies alike to reach lots of people. For instance, Facebook has 350 million members, and Twitter has an estimated 20 million to 50 million - all reachable for free.