Social Media and the Small Web Business

Social media has given huge benefits to small—and not-so-small—players in the web space. Here, I want to explain a couple of the ways my business uses social media to our advantage.

In my organization, we have a Twitter account and a blog for the brand itself. I have my own personal Twitter account, and we encourage our team members to have their own accounts too. We look for people across the team to contribute content to the blog, and we’re always out there doing public speaking at relevant industry events. We’re always out there, in the mix.

What’s great about these approaches is that they provide the opportunity to amplify your message: other people can retweet it or link to your blog. We also do a lot of guest appearances on other companies’ blogs; it’s worthwhile looking around and working out who else is out there in your field, then join together to make more noise, garnering more attention than you would otherwise. We did a video for BNET a few years ago, and it really is a gift that keeps on giving. We still receive contacts from that exposure even now.

One key way to promote these channels to your contacts is to include your Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networking details on your business card, website, and everything you do.

The other benefit of engaging through social media is that these tools make it easy to find out what other people are saying about you, and keep an eye on your reputation within the market. You can take advantage of this in a number of ways: when a prospect asks me what our customers are saying about us, we encourage them to check our @ replies on Twitter as a first step. If people are saying good things about you, let your clients see for themselves.

Recently, a client asked us for our résumé and references. We sent him the Google search results for our names and a Twitter search for our Twitter usernames—and won the job. The client remarked that the Google search told him far more than we could ever fit on a one-page resume. As this example shows, it’s best to let the market speak for itself.

Now, that’s great from a promotional sense, but social media can also help you to manage your business. One of your key tasks as a business owner is to maintain your database of contacts. Traditionally, this was difficult to do: people would move from business to business, and you’d be none the wiser that they’d changed jobs. Your database could quickly become redundant. Using online systems such as LinkedIn, where your contacts maintain their own profiles, solves this problem: when they do move, they can update their details themselves, so you’ll know where your contacts are working at any given time.

As soon as you see that a contact has moved to another organization, get in touch. Often, they’ll be moving into a role in which they’ll have a need for help from a web design business, so keeping track of your clients as they move around can be a strong business strategy. One of my clients has been using my business’s services for years, across three different employers that he’s worked for. Check your LinkedIn alerts regularly to see who’s moved where, and jump on the phone to those contacts as soon as you can.

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Peter Williams authored the new edition of SitePoint’s popular Web Design Business Kit – which will equip you with the business skills required to turn your talents into a successful, thriving business. Check it out!

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  • Sean

    Great article Peter, very inventive use of your Google search results and twitter @mentions :-)

    Keep the good news coming