MM_SocialMedia_CocktailPartyCocktail parties suited the mood of the 1950s. The cocktail party was for socializing with bosses, coworkers and friends, much like social media today. In the fifties, cocktail parties were a business tool, much like social media is a virtual business tool for us today.

According to Penney Fox, a social media strategist and owner of Fox Interactive Consultants, cocktail parties served a crucial occupational networking purpose. I sat down to chat with Penney about how she uses the “social media is like a cocktail party” analogy with her small business clients and she had some great insights to share.

An example of a small business in the 1950s was the neighborhood corner store, she says. The manager and clerks knew your family’s names and even knew when the youngest child got in trouble. Shopping could be considered a social affair to catch up on events or to get expert advice from the pharmacist. There are a lot of similarities with social media, Penney says.

I hear more and more about creative small businesses who are taking advantage of social media platforms to connect with their customers and be there when they need expert advice.

Penney believes that small businesses are much better suited to take advantage of social media than big box companies because small businesses are able to focus on their target audiences.

While followers of big brands may be one of a million possible leads, small business followers are more likely to be qualified leads. “I’d rather have 800 qualified leads than thousands that aren’t,” she says.

She gives her clients the following rule for social media: 70-20-10.

  • 70% of your social media posts should be information that your target audience would find useful, that may help them solve a problem through using your business and that they would find valuable. Here is where you should showcase your expertise by providing this relevant content.
  • 20% of your social posts can be promotional in nature. Your target audience knows that your goal is to get them to purchase your product or service, and they will let you, but only so much. About 20% is the threshold before social users choose to unfollow or unfriend a business, Penney says.
  • The last 10% can be for entertainment. “Not Kim Kardashian kind of entertainment, but posts that show your business’s personality,” she says. For example, a business that produces camping grills would most likely post funny or intriguing camping pictures on their Facebook and Pinterest pages.

Apply the same skills that you might use when working the room at a cocktail party to build the right relationship with your followers and fans. A major component of social media for small business is finding and keeping a consistent voice, Penney explains.

“I find that I help clients find their voice,” she says. “I think that a lot of people start off with this idea that they need to communicate with their customers in snippets, like a print ad. We’re human beings and we don’t talk like that. Especially on social media.”

Penney points out, and I agree, that social users are sensitive to posts or responses that sound like they are automated. What’s known as canned posts are not tolerated well on social media, so business users should steer clear of writing any post or response in a way that would not be similar to the normal way you talk.

“It’s been an interesting journey going through the discovery process with clients,” Penney said. The main question she asks, “how will your company show you’re human?” stumps people she says.

“That’s when we really work on the businesses voice and how they respond and interact with their customers,” Penney says. “I tell them, you are business. You know this, so take the knowledge you have and put it out there so you have a relatable conversation with people.”

The top three things she tells her clients to remember about using social media?

“Know who your customers are, know which social media platforms your customers are using and most importantly, create a compelling marketing message that demonstrates your products or services solve your customers problems,” she says.

“As small businesses we have an advantage with social media over big companies. It kind of levels playing field for us,” she says. “We have the opportunity to reach out and connect on a level that is hard for big companies to do. That’s why I love working with SMBs.”

If you’re interested in learning more about social media from Penney Fox, join us for insider strategies and tips for marketing your business during a social media webinar playback. A one hour investment gives you all the social media marketing skills you need to get your business found by more customers. This is a great opportunity and it’s FREE! Watch here now.