Ed Abrams, IBM’s SMB Social Strategy Expert on Content Marketing and Social Media

Large companies with large ad budgets are often the ones who make headlines in social media marketing. The technology that powers the social media efforts of large organizations is becoming more affordable to smaller companies.

Ed Abrams explains how the landscape is changing and gives tips to SMBs about social strategy, content, and running a business.

Decide what you want to achieve with social.

Abrams says, “Sit down to think about your goals with social networking or social business.” Are you trying to create a brand? Are you trying to drive sales and revenue?

Many businesses, both SMBs and large companies, say that they need to be present because everyone else is. Set an objective.”

Content and social strategy: The Chicken and the Egg

SMBs often use social media platforms before planning a larger content strategy. However, social media and content strategies should be developed at the same time.

Abrams says that businesses need to do two simultaneous things: create a social infrastructure and establish voice and content. What are you for? “What value can you add?”

SMBs should also consolidate their accounts to create a single, recognizable profile or page on the social networks that they choose.

When SMBs decide where they wish to be online, they must plan content their audience will enjoy and share.

Voice is also a crucial part of social marketing. Adams says that “no one wants to speak to someone who does not have a viewpoint they find important.”

Content Strategy Is Like a First Date

SMBs need to establish their content strategy prior to launching social marketing campaigns. Abrams explains that it’s similar to going on a date. You always want to be prepared for a good conversation so that you can start on the right foot. You don’t need those awkward silences.

Before engaging in the market, SMBs should first establish their point-of-view and then create content.

What if you are asked for additional information on a subject you have posted but do not possess it? “Social is a very real-time medium, so it’s important to build out content as well as the ability to deliver that content in the market consistently,” Adams says.


Listen to your audience and observe how they respond once you have decided what you are going to say. Abrams recommends that you take an active role in social-listening. Listen more than speak, just like in a good conversation. You’ll be out of touch if you don’t listen to what the marketplace has to say about your brand or your industry.

Start with simple listening tools that provide data analytics. There are plenty of options.

Abrams suggests asking your IT partner for recommendations. “The company that you already use to build your IT solutions can assist you in determining which are the most appropriate and relevant tools for you based on your existing infrastructure and the market you’re operating in.”

Monitor, but don’t be creepy.

Conversation management is one of the best ways for SMBs to succeed in social listening.

Abrams says, “You should have someone responsible for monitoring the social media environment and conversations.” What are the comments they see on Facebook posts or tweets related to their brand? What are the main topics that get more readers and distribution on your blog? Use these trends to shape the content your company brings into the conversation.”

He cites outdoor equipment company Moosejaw Mountain’s https://www.moosejaw.com/ social presence as an example for SMBs to follow: “Moosejaw starts a conversation around how and where their equipment is used, but then they turn the conversation over to their audience, asking them about their little Moosejaw flag–included in every order the company ships–and they’ll see where the flag is showing up in the world.”

Moosejaw can adjust its content, social strategy, and value proposition by observing how and where its customers use their products. This is done without scaring their audience.

Consider The Cloud

Abrams says that organizations with less than 1,000 employees may still have large technology requirements. SMBs could save a lot of money if they purchased the software and hardware necessary to store huge amounts of data and only needed to access them occasionally.

Cloud services are a good option for SMBs “to avoid having to buy huge amounts of processing capacity that they will only use occasionally.” He explains that they can now use the cloud when they are in need.

Don’t be afraid of big data.

Abrams says that not only small businesses but also larger companies can be overwhelmed by data.

Companies like IBM are also overwhelmed with the available data and information. Big data analytics are important for this reason. “SMBs often see the phrase ‘Big Data analytics’, and think that it’s just for large companies.”

In order to plan marketing effectively and deliver the best possible experience to customers, SMBs must make sense of this vast unstructured data.

Brass Tacks – How much will all this cost?

Abrams recommends that SMBs allocate 30% of their¬†resources to social media strategy and social media. “The media are still low-cost or free.”

The issue of time is another. Abrams advises that “70-80%” of time spent on marketing should be spent on social media, social business, or social strategies.

Ideally, SMBs would have at least one employee dedicated to social media. Abrams says that the most successful companies have someone in the marketing department who is devoted to social media and social business and someone in the sales department who is a champion and advocate of social tools for engaging customers.

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