Small Businesses Find Opportunity in Social Media
ANCHORAGE – The wave of web-based innovation spanning the past several years has opened a new door for Alaska small businesses: social media marketing.
While many companies use web-based tools to promote their businesses, network and find new customers, another burgeoning group of entrepreneurs are crafting a niche guiding others through the convoluted and evolving world of social media. In May, South Anchorage High School graduate Tyler Arnold partnered with nine local investors and a handful of school friends to launch the breakthrough marketing software SimplySocial.
And Tracy Williams, a Realtor by day, said she’s nearly ready to make the full-time jump to the social media consulting firm she first founded as a side project six months ago. Dubbed Alaska Tracy Offerings, Williams’ company helps other local businesses develop successful online marketing presences.
“It’s just been growing and growing,” she said. “I try to teach the law of reciprocity, because that’s what it’s all about.”
The business is based on a direct-referral concept: Williams said she also operates a Facebook page for local women small business owners, and stresses the idea of making personal contacts with online connections. Instead of focusing on the number of individual hits a website can generate, Williams said the new face of social media marketing involved a lot of old-fashioned customer service.
“I just totally shifted my way of thinking: It’s about engagement,” she said. “In real estate, it’s about picking up the phone, in any business it’s about picking the phone up and that’s all social media is about.”
Williams’ business and law of reciprocity formed a self-sustaining cycle. She said using social networks to promote other companies generated an invaluable loyalty among contacts and often turned into business for her own growing firm. It all boiled down to one key question, she said: How can I help you?
“People think, 'Really? You want to help me?'” Williams said. “Because everybody’s in it for themselves, it’s just refreshing to have someone ask, ‘What can I do for you?’ It doesn’t matter if you have 50 friends or 5,000, it’s about engaging with those people.”
The question has led to real world results for Alaska Tracy Offerings. Williams said her work with local businesses on Twitter opened the door to a speaking engagement at a fall convention, and she continues to teach social media classes with the Alaska Small Business Development Center.
Whether consulting with other local businesses on online marketing strategies or supporting her own company by promoting others, she said it all came back to developing a prosperous environment for all of Alaska’s small businesses.
“I believe if you give to others, you’ll just be abundantly, abundantly given back to,” she said.