Mabel’s Labels has almost 140,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. “We measure our social media ROI in Facebook likes and blog comments,” says Julie Cole, co-founder and VP of public relations for the kids’ label maker. Cole insists that every small business should be taking advantage of the free marketing provided by online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Social media levels the playing field, says Cole. “Even a small company can have a great niche if it does social media well.”
While entrepreneurs who aren’t social-savvy are hesitant to get involved, Cole says the conversation is happening already—with or without you. “Right now is no time for toe dipping—you need to get in there.”
PROFIT caught up with the W100 CEO at last year’s W100 Idea Exchange. Her two biggest pieces of advice?
Take your time. Don’t sign up for a handful of accounts all at once; you’ll never be able to manage them all. “If you’re going to be there, you’ve got to be there,” says Cole. Business owners who sign up for Twitter, send a handful of tweets and then abandon it are making a bigger mistake than not being there at all. If a customer asks a question via Twitter or Facebook and it goes unanswered, that’s just poor customer service.
Don’t obsess over metrics. “You do have to have tools in place that tell you it’s worth your while, that your efforts are converting to sales, but the underused part of social media for a lot of companies is that actual community building,” says Cole. “That’s the very point of it: it’s social. If you’re going to be on social media, you need to have these conversations; you need to engage your customers—and not just about your product.”
Watch the full Q+A below.