Developing your Business’s Social Media Marketing Strategy

In a 2017 survey of over 3,000 consumers in the U.S., Germany, Colombia, and Mexico, 35% of people reported they go to social media for information when they’re considering buying something and want to research options. That figure was closer to 50% for consumers aged 18-34.

As small businesses and entrepreneurs consider how they will market their products, social media can offer numerous potential benefits – from helping build brand awareness, to offering a way of reaching large audiences in a cost effective way, and driving traffic to a business’s website, among many other opportunities.

An individual working at a computer.

Developing a Social Media Strategy

Consider these four questions from a 2020 Harvard Business Review article as you develop your social media strategy:

  1. “What are your goals?”

Are you trying to expand to a new geography? Launch a new product? Increase sales? Whatever the answer, your strategy should be tailored to fit your goals, so start out by identifying those goals. Remember to ensure your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timed.

  1. “Which platforms should you use?”

Different social media platforms have different formats, business tools, and more. For example, Facebook has useful business tools like detailed analytics and allows businesses to incorporate lots of information like contact details and hours of operation. Meanwhile, Pinterest and Instagram are highly visual platforms with focus on photo and video content; categories like food and DIY projects are some of Pinterest’s most popular categories. Check out the “Social media platforms for businesses” section of this recent article from Business News Daily to learn about the different business tools and formats of major social media platforms.

  1. “What is your content strategy?”

Will you use pictures? Video? To develop effective digital marketing for a small business, entrepreneurs will need to consider the type of content that is right for them based on their target customers, their resources, and more. Authors writing for the Harvard Business Review counsel, “Your content should be unique, useful, and shareable.”

  1. “Are you ready to talk with your audience – in real time?”

Social media platforms offer opportunities for businesses to engage with their customers and it is important for businesses to relate to and interact with customers on social platforms. As one author shared tips for businesses using social media, “Create a consistent voice and tone . . . one that resonates with your audience and influences how they see your brand.” If you’re using social media for customer service functions, consider that 42% of consumers expect a business to respond to complaints raised via social media within 60 minutes.

Upcoming “Foodpreneur School” to Focus on Social Media Marketing for Food & Farm Entrepreneurs

If you’re a food and farm entrepreneur ready to learn more about using social media marketing, join us in Hillsboro, Ohio on Tuesday, October 25, 2022! Foodpreneur School is an educational program for food and farm entrepreneurs who are ready to grow through enhanced sales and marketing. Speakers at the October 25 session will include experts from Ohio State University sharing the ins-and-outs of social media marketing for small business and insights on creating impactful video content for marketing. The session will include hands-on learning opportunities and entrepreneurs are encouraged to bring along their preferred devices (mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) for managing their social media presence. Learn more about the session and sign up for no-cost online!

If you require an accommodation, such as translation, to participate in this event, please contact Samantha Black at black.1156@osu.edu or 614-247-9705. Requests made two weeks in advance, will generally allow us to provide seamless access, but the university will make every effort to meet requests made after this date.

CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visitcfaesdiversity.osu.edu.

Are you a small business using online marketing? Learn about legal basics of branding and marketing in our digital world!

Did you know that internet users spend an average of almost three hours per day on the internet? Three hours! In explaining why digital marketing should be a priority for small businesses, one author shared, “even if you are not selling your product or service online, then you likely could still count yon your target audience being on the internet at some point during any given day.” As people spend significant amounts of time online and social media platforms offer numerous opportunities for small businesses as they market their products and services, like the ability to connect with huge audiences for little or no cost, it should be no surprise that an estimated 91% of small businesses allocated resources to digital marketing in 2021.

Graphic of marketing images, including retail storefront, smartphone, online application, and computer.

But have you ever considered the potential legal implications of your online marketing? For example, a 2016 fact sheet, “The Legal Implications of Social Media Marketing & Advertising,” shared the following potential legal considerations for businesses using social media:

  • Social media posts could be considered ‘corporate speech’ and be used against companies in lawsuits, for example in false advertising and other claims. (This is one reason it is important for businesses to identify authorized users and develop written policies about how social media accounts are used or maintained.)
  • Social media activities may be subject to regulatory laws and agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, National Labor Relations Act, and the Food & Drug Administration
  • Issues around content ownership can have important impacts – for example, businesses need permission to use content generated by other users, including content that includes their products or incorporates their brands.
  • Digital marketing spaces create considerations around the use, protection, and monitoring of intellectual property like trademarks and copyrights.

“Legal Basics of Branding and Marketing: What to know in a digital world” seminar to be held in Piketon, Ohio

Entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the legal basics of branding and marketing can attend a free education session in Piketon, Ohio on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. The session is one of three educational presentations by legal professionals as part of the event, “Building Legally Resilient Small Businesses: Quick Advice Legal Clinic for Entrepreneurs,” which will be co-hosted by the Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law and partner business development programs at the OSU South Centers. During the evening program on Wednesday, August 17, 2022, entrepreneurs can participate in one or all three free public education sessions on common legal issues for small businesses. There is no cost to participate in the program, but registration is required.

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – “Legal Basics of Branding and Marketing: What to know in a digital world,” taught by Patrick Perkins, OSU Moritz College of Law

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – “Legal Structures for Small Business,” taught by Paige Wilson, OSU Moritz College of Law

7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – “Working with Independent Contractors,” taught by Jacqueline Radebaugh, Jason Wiener p.c.

Entrepreneurs can also sign up for no-cost, one-on-one consultations with volunteer attorneys to explore their legal questions and receive guidance in areas like business structures, employment, contracts, marketing and advertising, worker and other cooperatives, commercial real estate, and more. Sessions will last up to 30 minutes and participants can register for up to two sessions. Entrepreneurs interested in a one-on-one appointment will be asked to submit basic information about their legal question so staff members can try to match participants with a volunteer attorney whose practice area most closely matches their legal question. Please note, space is limited.

Event Details: August 17, 2022, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

LOCATION: OSU South Centers Endeavor Center

1862 Shyville Road, Piketon, Ohio 45661

COST: No cost to attend, but registration is required.

Register by visiting go.osu.edu/legalclinic

Questions? Reach out to Hannah Scott at scott.1220@osu.edu or 614-247-9705.

If you require an accommodation, such as translation, to participate in this event, please contact Samantha Black at black.1156@osu.edu or 614-247-9705. Requests made by August 3, 2022, will generally allow us to provide seamless access, but the university will make every effort to meet requests made after this date.

CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visitcfaesdiversity.osu.edu.

MEATing a Need – Resource kit available for those exploring meat processing business

By Joy Bauman

beef carcasses

A team of Ohio State business and meat science specialists have compiled a Meat Processing Business Tool Kit for people who are exploring the meat processing business. Designed as a decision-making aid for people exploring investing in or expanding a meat processing facility, this online tool kit can help entrepreneurs evaluate the business and navigate business planning. The Meat Processing Business Tool Kit is available in the Business section at the OSU South Centers webpage and at the OSU Extension Meat Science webpage.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers saw shortages of meat in large supermarkets caused by disruptions in large packing plant operations. “As a result, consumers started shopping at smaller, local meat shops, that didn’t have shortages of meat,” explained Lynn Knipe, PhD, associate professor of food science and technology at Ohio State who worked with the team to develop the meat processing business tool kit. “This, in turn, increased business for the smaller meat processors to a point that people who were used to taking animals to their local slaughterhouse, had to schedule their animals much farther out than normal,” Knipe said.

Knipe explained that entrepreneurial people who either raised livestock or had some past experience with slaughter or cutting of meat, have decided to consider opening their own meat businesses. Knipe and his colleague, Lyda Garcia, PhD, assistant professor of animal science began receiving more calls than usual, with people finding them either through their Extension Meat Science website or by referral from meat inspection people they had contacted.

Likewise, many of the same people were reaching out for guidance from the business development specialists at OSU South Centers and the specialists at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives, which is also based at the OSU South Centers. While gathering information to assist clients in summer 2020, the Center for Cooperatives team members reached out to OSU Extension meat science specialists Knipe and

Garcia. Soon, a working group was formed with team members from the CFAES Center for Cooperatives, the Small Business Development Center at OSU South Centers, the Extension Meat Science Program, and the OSU Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.  Together, the group developed and compiled resources to help guide entrepreneurs interested in the meat processing business.

“It only made sense that we work together as Ohio State colleagues to better serve our clientele,” said Garcia. “Instead of individuals contacting one OSU source and getting a bit of information and then needing to contact another OSU source for more information, we can all point them toward this fantastic online resource that will help answer their questions and guide them in the decision-making process,” Garcia explained.

On the webpage housing the tool kit, users will find information to help get started, including understanding the capacity for such a business, maps of federal and state inspection facilities and auction sites, as well as livestock inventory. To aid in decision making regarding business models, there are samples of cooperative and corporate business models, with business planning templates, financial worksheets, and information about funding sources. Contacts are also listed for those using the tool kit and seeking additional assistance with their business planning.

“The materials lead entrepreneurs to investigate critical considerations during the planning process, including collecting livestock data, gathering financial information, financial modeling, and business planning. That means that the tools are adaptable and intended to be changed to the user’s unique circumstance,” said Ryan Kline, Cooperative Program Specialist for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives.

A business plan is helpful as a decision-making tool for entrepreneurs and it becomes a tool they can use when talking to potential lenders, investors, or future key employees. CFAES Center for Cooperatives program manager Hannah Scott explained, “In our experience, entrepreneurs don’t usually look forward to business planning, but many of them are already going through the business planning process mentally as they consider a new business or ways to expand their current operation. We encourage entrepreneurs to write down their plans – and to use tools and coaching that can help them approach the process in a systematic way without being overwhelming – because it can help them identify potential issues and consider topics they might not have before.”

“There is lots of assistance for entrepreneurs going through the business planning process, from templates like the ones in this tool kit to assistance from business development specialists like our team at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives or the OSU South Centers Business Development Network, which houses a multi-county Small Business Development Center (SBDC),” Scott said. The SBDC program is a nationwide network of business development specialists who provide no-cost business consulting for entrepreneurs. Readers can locate their nearest SBDC here.

“We hope that the tool will be intuitive as entrepreneurs move through the planning process,” Kline said. “When visiting the website, people will find a self-guided and self-paced exploration of Meat Processing that we hope will help anyone interested in starting a meat processing facility.”

To find the Meat Processing Business Tool Kit online, visit: southcenters.osu.edu/meat-processing-business-toolkit or meatsci.osu.edu/programs/meat-processing-business-toolkit.

Cooperatives Eligible to Receive COVID-19 Assistance

 

Cooperative businesses experiencing financial issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to receive assistance through two major programs of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Payroll Protection Program

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), providing $349 billion for small business loans for qualified payroll costs, rent, utilities, and interest on mortgages and other debt obligations. PPP loan amounts are forgivable as long as:

  • Loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8-week period after the loan is made; and
  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) have shared that cooperative businesses in agriculture, purchasing, consumer food, and worker cooperatives that meet the size criteria, generally with fewer than 500 employees, are eligible for this program based on the interim rule and Department guidance.

Applicants can apply to the PPP through eligible Small Business Administration lenders beginning Friday, April 3, 2020. Applicants will be required to submit an application and payroll documentation. To find an eligible SBA lending institution, tap or click here.

For a factsheet about the PPP, including information about loan terms, interest rates, and repayment periods, tap or click here.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing due to COVID-19.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. are eligible to apply for an EIDL advance of up to $10,000 for businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance does not have to be repaid and will be made available within three days of a successful application, even if the loan is not approved or if it is approved and not taken.

Cooperative businesses with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for the EIDL program.

To learn more about the EIDL program, including information about interest rates, loan terms, use of loan funds, and the application process tap or click here. Applicants to the EIDL program can apply directly to the SBA.

To learn more about applying to the EIDL program as a cooperative business, watch this webinar, “Demystifying SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans,” hosted by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA).

Cooperate with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives

  • Visit us online at go.osu.edu/cooperatives
  • Follow us on Twitter @OSUCooperatives
  • Like us on Facebook @OhioStateCooperatives

Learn more about the Mid America Cooperative Council