TOWNSEND -- Social media advertising is inexpensive, easy to get started with and reaches individual customers. But for small businesses with no marketer on board and lacking computer-savvy staff, designing and implementing a strategy can be intimidating, according to Miriam McNabb, a social-marketing professional.
She will return to share her expertise with the Townsend Business Association during its mid-year meeting on May 8. Last year she talked to the business people about reasons to use social media; this year she will get into the nuts and bolts of a campaign.
The whole thing is simple: set up a Twitter or Facebook account and take some time each week to decide what to post. Your product or service is now out there to be recommended and discussed between people who know you and who know each other.
Advertising through social media "works so much better than traditional advertising. People trust friends and relatives more than they trust advertisers," she said.
Some small businesses are reluctant to post and ask their followers to share them. It feels like advertising to friends, McNabb said. There are other ways than special offers and coupons to bring people to your door.
A pizza shop might donate a few pizzas for a school dance. "It's a great thing to share and all the moms in the PTO are going to share. Everybody feels really good about your pizza and they feel like you are contributing back," she said.
A farm stand might get in the habit of announcing when different pick-your-own seasons open or when it is time to plant geraniums. A little reminder like this can bring people through the door.
Facebook is also a great way to establish yourself as an expert in the field. A customer with questions about an appliance could find someone just down the road with an online question-and-answer forum. That expert could become the person who sells that consumer their next dryer.
The best thing about social media is the lost cost compared to other advertising, basically some time and effort, McNabb said.
"I think what I like about it is that it's so democratic. Not every business has the opportunity to put a full page ad in the New York Times. Every business has the opportunity to open a Facebook page, which is free," she said.
During the seminar she will discuss some practicalities of using social media advertising -- what platform to use, finding the time and developing content.
People will come away with some basic concepts, McNabb said. The best way to begin is just dive in; it gets easier over time Keep what the customer needs in mind. Even give away your "secret sauce" by sharing your expertise. Your business will benefit.
The TBA mid-year meeting will be held at Bailey's on the Green on Scales Lane and is open to members. It will be held May 8 at 6 p.m.
A yearly membership in the TBA is $75 and includes two dinner meetings. New members can join now, but there will be a $20 surcharge for the meal.
Contact Marcia Fernald, TBA president, at 978-597-0204, ext. 115, for reservations and membership information.