How Fast-Growing Companies Use Social-Media Marketing
Between conversing with customers and connecting far-flung employees and operations, social media has become a prized resource for small businesses. And many business owners now say their efforts are paying off.
Four in 10 women-led business owners attributed an increase in revenue to their social media efforts, with 10 percent reporting a “significant” revenue jump, according to a survey conducted by Women Presidents’ Organization.
The data is based on the responses of 259 women-led companies that submitted applications for the annual Top 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Led Companies ranking. The list was released this week by WPO, an advisory group for multimillion-dollar women-owned businesses.
And while 40 percent of respondents said they haven’t seen sales improve from social media, 31 percent of them remained “hopeful,” as they cited other benefits such as building credibility or bolstering recruitment efforts. Just 16 percent reported no use of social media.
But for those who have achieved bottom-line success in part by socializing their companies, what’s their secret? Consider the social-media strategies of these three fast-growing from the WPO ranking.
Shelly Sun, co-founder of BrightStar Franchising [ranked No. 1], says there’s no question her social media marketing is paying dividends.
Not only has BrightStar’s Web traffic nearly doubled to total 55,000 unique monthly visitors, compared with 33,000 just a year ago, annual sales also surged 60 percent to $99.6 million in 2010, compared with the previous year. She expects the climb will continue in 2011 with projected annual sales of $150 million.
What’s BrightStar’s secret? Never a big dabbler, Sun who is also chief executive of the Gurnee, Ill.,-based homecare service, hired a dedicated staffer in 2008 to manage the company’s social media efforts as well its online reputation.
Today, BrightStar employees blog about the industry as well as post practical tips and advice on a range of topics from a new-babysitter checklist to hiring a homecare aid. Staffers also post links to relevant health and aging news stories on BrightStar’s Facebook page, and they’ll upload the occasional marketing video or event footage onto YouTube.
Sun’s advice: Cultivate in-bound links. By serving as an information resource for caregivers and people who need them, she’s been able to attract more than 72,000 in-bound links — links to her site from other sites — up from 600 a year ago. She says posting in-bound links to the site from online press releases and having nearly 200 franchisees all undertaking their own social media marketing helps.
“Everything we do with social media is trying to direct people to our site,” says Sun.