Small Business: getting the most out of social media

According to the recent yellow social media report(6) only 27% of small businesses and 34% of medium enterprises are plugging into social media. The data demonstrates an increased spend in 2012, small business have spend an average $3,410 on social media, up from $2,050 in 2011 and medium enterprises are likely to spend $16,920,up from $6,500.

Social media spending will also surge in 2013 and there is opportunities for companies who navigate this target market.

So if you are consulting a small business on how to best to use social media, where do you start?

Firstly, a business needs to map out their target market. The nature of the prospect will also decide which platform they may use. For example, most businesses will start with Facebook, although B2B and professional services are better catered for on Linked In. There are many social media platforms that allow for different demographics and different interests.

Secondly, a business has to be quite specific in what they want to achieve. Social media can lead to better brand awareness; it can be a way to research your market; provide better customer service, and of course increase sales. A clear call to action will get the best results.

Thirdly,  decide on what content you will be providing. The fresher, the more interesting content, the better it will be received by the audience. A business should aim to be a thought leader in their particular field. As a by-product, fresh regular content leads to great SEO results.

A business must allow sufficient time to engage social media, if you have a presence but do not regularly reply to users, it can be negative for the brand. Half an hour a day should be enough for a business starting out in social media. There are also many tools online that will help someone organise their social media presence, for example HootSuite is a tool for scheduling posts.

I believe the best approach is to be creative with social media, that is, use the nature of the medium to provide value to the target market. Here are some examples…

Twitter is a great way for a restaurant to share their new menu.

A dentist can publish videos of clients testimonials to lessen the fear for new customers.

If its a business that makes things, Pinterest is highly visual and a great way to exhibit products.

A nutritionist can write blogs, the more compelling the content, the more likelihood of getting inquiries.

Let me know of other examples where SME’s can use social media to promote their business.


Ford Fiesta: Social Media that Sells

In the last few years Ford Fiesta have been one of the most innovative brands in using social media.

An oldie but a goodie is the Ford Fiesta Movement, when Ford wanted to launch into the small car market in the US, they gave 100 cars to 100 people, for a 6 month period.  The idea was to take the Ford Fiesta on adventures and get the community involved. Adventures would be documented  on video and those with the most social media engagement would win the car. There were some great stories, a wresting alligator mission, meals on wheels safaris and supplying the national guard with snacks.

The Fiesta Movement was a game changer, according to Harvard Business Online, Ford sold 10,000 units in the first six days of sales, had over 6.5million views, and  50,000 requests for information about the car.  All by just giving 100 people a camera and a car.

Ford Fiesta have just recently released the Fiestagram, an innovative campaign that asks users to link Fiestas’ state of the art technology with photography. Facebook and Instagram were the platforms of choice, and the campaign was also bought to real life through galleries and a live billboard. The campaign created 120,000 fans.


I really like the way that Ford Fiesta uses Social Media to achieve business goals. I am guessing that their target market is twenty something, so they look at what will interest their prospects from a cultural perspective, and of course it has to be fun. Ultimately the brand thinks about different ways that they can add value to the users life.

An advertising colleague in China once described Social Media marketing to me as entering someone’s lounge room,  you are the guest so you need to behave appropriately. It seems Ford Fiesta are the perfect guests.

Mamas Cooking : missing the secret ingredient?

A few years ago, whilst working for a digital agency, I pitched an idea to the CEO which I though would become a viral hit. It was called ‘Mamas Cooking’ and it was a series of videos, about mothers teaching their grown up kids how to cook traditional dishes from their country of origin. The purpose was to capture and preserve these dishes in all their glory, with all their fatty ingredients, in old school kitchens with real, earthy banter.  Apart from cooking knowledge, the videos would act as entertainment, and really feed on the chemistry between family. Keep in mind that this was pre Master Chef and the myriad of shows that are presently available.

The CEO liked the idea, agreed to shoot a pilot, and then monitor  to see whether the video would take off. If we were to be successful we would approach a number of brands that we were in contact with to sponsor an international version, where we would shoot in remote areas of Japan, Russia, Italy, China and Latin America.

After a few months floating around on  youtube, sadly, mamas cooking did not hit tipping point, and I never went shooting on exotic locations.

So what should we have done differently?

Seeding : It is really no enough to seed your campaign on video sites, this particular video should have been seeded on cooking/ foodie  blogs and sites, as well as publishing in connector sites like Digg, Reddit, Stumble, Upon and Delicious. You can use what influence you and your company has on Facebook and Twitter, but a better plan would be to look for Social Media influencers within those channels and ask them to help promote the content, even run a facebook competition where  the winners would partake in the videos.

Content: Perhaps an international celebrity and his mum would of had more pulling power :). Also the 10 minute video may have been on the cusp of people’s patience with this medium.  

Testing: Doing the one pilot show may not have been enough perhaps by tracking the comments of the first one, we could have produced a better second and even third video.

What ideas do you think would of changed the fate of Mamas Cooking?

The Anatomy of a Viral Video

Any agency that has had a reasonable creative reputation, would know of a client, that has walked in the door and muttered the dreaded words, ‘I want a viral video’. You then go into education mode, expressing what is required, like great ideas, high production values, good budgets and in any case there is no real formula for viral videos.

Or is there?, Dr Brent Cocker and his team from the University of Melbourne have ‘identified patterns which form the basis of a Branded Viral Movie Predictor algorithm”, which identifies why some video content is watched and shared more than others”.  (University of Melbourne Website, 2012)

The most viewed viral videos have four key characteristics. What the research team coined ‘congruency’, is simply whether the viewer can relate their own value systems to the content presented. The ability of the video to raise emotions and also the motivation created to pass on the network are also factors of success. The fourth ingredient is coined as ‘Paired meme element synergy’,  and explains the combination of factors in the movie that combine to attain the interest of the audience, “for example, impromptu entertainment paired with anticipation”. (University of Melbourne Website, 2012)

Does the research match what is going on in the real world?

Sidwell is an agency who have recently produced American Hipster, video portraits of Americas trendsetters and their quest to make a difference.

In an interview with Mashable, the partners at Sidwell shared their steps to success. They refer to fresh original creative ideas and concepts as a starting point. Whether it is weird, entertaining, hilarious or unexpected, the video needs to emotionally appeal to users so that they would want to share it with other like-minded people. So there is universal agreement that a good viral needs to start with a great idea, and needs to evoke an emotional response from the audience.

Sidwell also gave also gave some practical tips for optimizing for online audiences, for example let you audience know what the video is about in the first 15-30 seconds, use interesting thumbnails to signify the video and go sparingly on the branding.

i guess the art of a viral video is how to get that emotional response from your audience, Krony 2012 had a sad story to tell but one that was full of hope, whilst pop musicians will publish entertaining clips of their work and thousands of their fans will lap it up online.

What are your thoughts on what makes a video viral?