Yes it can, if you’re the homemaker turned entrepreneur who founded Lolly Wolly Doodle, and built her business almost entirely on Facebook. The children’s clothing maker generated $11 million in 2013, and has doubled its revenue every year since being founded in 2009, according to a lengthy profile in Inc. magazine.
Tips From the Experts
Brandi Temple, founder of Lolly Wolly Doodle, moderated a panel with representatives from Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest at the Amex CEO BootCamp in New York earlier this week.The panelists discussed how to grow a small business using social media. Attendees also had the opportunity to attend breakout seminars hosted by each of the networks.
While she didn’t discuss her own company’s success story, in a video accompanying the Inc. profile, Brandi offered these seven “secrets” to budding entrepreneurs:
- Treat each channel differently. While the channels may have similarities there are also differences and it’s very important to treat each one as its own business property.
- Experiment, experiment, experiment. Try different things. Don’t be afraid to do something crazy because it might just work.
- Be yourself. There’s no sense in getting tons of Likes if your message isn’t going to the people you really want to attract.
- Make transactions seamless. Nobody wants to go through 20 steps to buy something. They want it fast and easy as possible.
- Don’t be a business. You don’t want your customers to think that all you’re trying to do is sell something. Talk about things that are important to them in their daily lives.
- Keep them on their toes. Put things up and down very quickly, tying into the social side of it, making it a game with your customers.
- Buckle up. Because you’re going to go on a crazy ride on social media. This is especially true of Facebook, which she said seems to change its algorithms every week.
Search Gets More Sophisticated
All the social media networks have refined their analytics so they have a deep understanding of who their users are and their behaviors. It’s important to remember that each network is also a sophisticated search engine directing to you to the content you request. In the process, the networks are building a profile of each user.
Twitter’s Brin Sanders said Twitter is taking it a step further and trying to understand better what their members’ interests are, and not only by the terms they search.
I recently wrote a post for Keep Up with the Web in which I discussed how independent search engines are trying to get better at semantics, which is understanding the relationships between people, places and things to uncover what people want – their real interests. It appears the social networks are moving in the same direction.
Twitter’s 85 million active users generate 500 million tweets a day, Brin said. Business owners can to listen to what their customers are saying and learn about their needs as a foundation for a business and social media strategy.
Brin also announced that Twitter this week launched a Twitter Small Business Planner, “…a mobile app full of tactical guidance for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in North America, the UK and Ireland.”
For the upcoming holiday season, Twitter is co-hosting a series of educational digital events with the Google Small Business Community, Square, HubSpot, Hootsuite and SproutSocial. Go to #SmallGoesBig to learn more.
Stacy Aronstein of LinkedIn said the biggest mistake people make on LinkedIn is not having a robust profile, including a photo. Members with a photo receive 14 times more views.
Your profile is your brand. After a meeting or conference the first thing people do is go back to their office and look you up on LinkedIn. It’s a missed opportunity to connect if your profile doesn’t reflect your brand. Be personal and approachable in your profile. Tell your story in the first person. Say “I” and “Me.” Engage with humans, not resumes.
LinkedIn’s two million Groups also enable members to engage with other members based on mutual interests to learn what customers and potential customers are talking about.
Following influencers, becoming active in Groups and following discussions all provide information about potential connections.
If you want help developing your brand on LinkedIn or leveraging the network’s other services, then visit the LinkedIn Small Business Resource Center.
Sandy Diao of Pinterest said companies test product ideas to see what gets pinned. They are making design decisions based on the trends they see on Pinterest.
If certain products are very popular they can be stocked in offline stores. Metrics around pins can inform a company’s offline marketing strategy.
Pins validate their choices. With their boards, human beings are organizing objects in their personal lives and communicating what’s resonating with them. Over time it’s possible to build an interest graph connecting all these objects and, Sandy said, feed more granular information to them.
The Bottom Line
Each network representative stressed that you need to know your goals for social media. Is it to sell products? Create awareness? Build your brand? Is it to engage your existing customers or reach new customers?
Don’t be afraid to experiment. See what works. Discard wasn’t doesn’t work and then try something new.
Listen to your customers and learn what they want and need. Engage with them and be approachable. Your metrics will tell you a lot about their interests.
Maybe in time if you follow the advice of the experts you can be the next Lolly Wooly Doodle.