“A lot of small businesses are pushing messages out all the time and not getting any results”, according to Dustin Luther, director of Social Media at Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp. “How do you cut through the noise, and put a plan together for yourself that works for your business?”

Cut through the noise

Create lists

  • Twitter lists can be parsed…small biz, sustainability, marketing, etc.), so you can quickly find people talking about the right things when you want to do research). Follow any number of people, but put the real key folks into a list.
  • Facebook lists…similar–otherwise Facebook is just a pile of kitten videos


  • Pinterest may be here today, gone tomorrow. Usership is dropping, according to Luther, and he fully expects that Pinterest just doesn’t quite have staying power or any real hook that will keep people interested after the initial fascination.

Review sites

  • Yelp is #1, of course. There are others. If your business has a presence here, pay close attention to what people are writing about you and your competitors. You can even reach out directly to people who’ve left reviews for powerful engagement.

Google Alerts

  • Can set these to let you know what’s happening to particular businesses (including your competition), key customers/clients, key employees, or even for lead generation terms you’ve identified.
  • This can lead you to blog articles you should go and post in the comments of.
  • Can set this up for daily, hourly, or real time.
  • Can tap into conversations with potential customers or folks you’d like to interview/talk to.

Twitter searches

  • there’s a widget wheel in the top right of twitter…you can search for just about anything and reach out directly to the people talking about issues important to your business.


  • your updates will only be seen when your other updates are getting likes and comments…Facebook uses an algorithm for this and if you’re not posting interesting stuff, your rank will start to fall.
  • How do you get folks to like your FB page…photos, videos, contests?  FB will really help your business promotion if it seems to be something that folks are interested in. In that way, it’s kind of chicken and egg. gotta get people there first, so figure out what people actually want to read and comment on and like/share.


A plan for your business…making an impact


Live video engagement

  • The person is on a live video stream. Questions come in via chatboxes.
  • This has the potential to be high impact for people in a knowledge based position. Careful though…if people show up to an empty room, you will look really lonely sitting there in front of a camera. Take it from me, this happened a lot in the early days of my company–we weren’t quite ready to do this, so make sure you have an audience first!


  • Who are the most influential twitter followers worth following in your industry?
  • People are really willing to start interactions on twitter much more than Facebook–if you can find 15 people who can really help you, directly reach out to them.

Embrace other voices, even your competitors

  • talk nice about your competitors…do this and you will go from *A* voice in your field to *THE* expert

Automate with care

  • LiveNation set up a bunch of tweets in advance for a concert, enthusiastically telling followers to post their pictures of the show…RadioHead, Toronto, stage collapse…and yet…LiveNation’s upbeat, and pre-programmed, tweets still kept coming.

Think but don’t overthink

  • You want to fail fast–you won’t know if you don’t try…but find out quick.


Big key takeaway: the folks who do really well on social media are those that are genuinely into the stuff they’re talking about.
If you’re interested in more social media strategies for your business, you can follow Dustin Luther of Dun and Bradstreet on Twitter @tyr

And if you’re interested in top twitter feeds from the sustainable business community, check out our article on the top ten green business twitterers.

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About The Author

Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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