Can you win business using social media?

When people talk about social media, sites like Facebook and Twitter they often talk about return on investment and monetizing it. If I told you I invested 3 hours a week and got a significant return would you believe me? Would you believe me if I told you I was a brick and mortar business and not a social media business?

As a small regional courier company, based in the UK I work in a county that is smaller in size than Brooklyn, New York. In fact someone told me once the whole UK could fit into New York state a few times. Not only do I live in another country, I have less people to do business with 😉

I discovered blogging in 2007 through a site called BT Tradespace, and to this day I still send my blog posts there. I had to write 50 words 3 times a week on my BT Tradespace blog. My first one went “White van in Sheffield on Friday, looking for a load back to London” 13 words. Hmmm, only another 37 to find. I scraped up another 37 words and hit publish. And I did this 3 times a week and after 3 weeks the phone started ringing with bookings. Every time we blogged the phone rang, some days it rang off the hook!

I had these blogs to promote and I had no idea what to with them so in August 2007 I set up a Facebook page and added the feed to the Facebook page so people could see the blogs.

In 2008 I discovered Twitter via a lady called Suzy Miller, and I thought hey – I can promote my blog posts there too. So for 15 minutes every day I would chat to people on Twitter, help those with delivery problems out, ReTweet useful posts and promote my own blog posts. Soon lots of people started to recommend me. I met with local business people for coffee and spoke about Twitter and what it can do for business. I helped other small businesses get started on Twitter and I wrote an ebook that sold 450 copies – “Twitter for Couriers” to help others in my niche industry get started.

2009 was interesting, were noticed by a very large company who needed time sensitive deliveries. We whizzed through the vetting procedures, it was so fast it was like a blur. I was curious, these things take months so I asked why it was so fast and the reply? “We can find all the information we need about you online, through your blogs, your tweets, through Facebook. We have even watched your You Tube video, we just need to meet you to see if you are like that in real life”. And we were, like that in real life that is. Being human and helpful gained us a big contract. Using social media enabled us to be found, followed and then trusted. Trusted enough to deliver time critical items.

2010 was the year of more blogging, guest blogging and gaining more business through social media. People who didn’t know us laughed – “How can a small business win contracts on Twitter? They are not social media experts, they are not even marketing experts, they have poor grammar too…” As if poor grammar ever stopped people from having a conversation! That’s what social media is about, the conversation.

If you are a chatty helpful person then you can do well with social media too.

  • Set up your searches for your keywords, and talk back to people that need help.
  • Direct them to pages on your blog that can help and ask them to ReTweet if they found it useful.
  • If people are in other countries direct them to a Twitter user or blog in their own country for help. You make two new friends that way.
  • Help Journalists in your industry – this has led to press and radio interviews for us
  • Be human, don’t be a business tweet robot, show some of your personality
  • Show other sides to your business – there’s more to us that white vans!

Nearly 20 billion searches a month are performed on Twitter so once a day Tweet out what you do and a link to your website so you are found in the searches. Mine goes out at around 4am in the morning so it can be found but not annoy my regular followers.

Still think you won’t get business from Twitter? If a small regional courier from a country that’s one fifth of the size of New York State can, so can you. You just have to do it.

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