By James Wirth

Everyone on the planet seems to be either talking ABOUT social media or talking about some topic ON social media.

But one challenge for small business owners and managers is often how to make the conversation relevant.

And by relevant, I am referring to two things:

If you already have people regularly commenting on, liking and sharing your updates, then hey you’re already there and there’s honestly probably not a lot of value in this post.

But for those struggling with the ROT of social media marketing (ROT=Return on Time, and yes pun intended), this is a major challenge. So today I’d like to share an anecdotal example of how I was able to spontaneously engage with an influencer – almost by accident.

So I’m scrolling through my Twitter feed the other night in my copious spare time…

I was actually picking up one of my kids after an activity and checking updates on my phone while I waited, when I happened to see one from someone I’ve actually mentioned on SmallBizDaily before.

Here’s what I saw:

To which I casually replied:


Now here’s where it gets interesting. Sam then tweeted:

This was TOTALLY unsolicited. Yes, he knows I work for an online survey company but I did not ask for that tweet at all and imagine he probably wasn’t actually asking me to create a survey. But since he threw down the gauntlet (even in jest), I of course had to go with it 🙂

So I quickly created a survey and sent back the following:



I also added a twist to the survey – Sam is a big Twitter user so I used to craft a tweet that would pre-load any time someone took the survey, to encourage re-sharing. I thought he might get a kick out of that.


Mission accomplished!

(He also favorited and retweeted the one I sent to him and I got a number of other shares and followers from the exchange.


  • This is NOT some major viral moment where I got hundreds of shares or faves – that didn’t happen. Instead, I’m concentrating on just some good solid relevant engagement, because that can happen a lot more often.
  • Neither major brand chimed in at any time during this exchange. I may be small potatoes with less than 2K Twitter followers, but Sam has 60,000! One would think it would be worth Starbucks and Foursquare engaging, since he is a big user of both;
  • Two examples of the benefits of social media for small businesses:
    1. Using your knowledge or influence in relevant social conversations (it was an online survey for me);
    2. There are many tools out there that help you monitor mentions on social meda. You don’t have to constantly watch your social channels for mentions, just use alerts or notifications so you won’t drop the ball on an opportunity to engage (like Starbucks and Foursquare did).

And in this example, mission accomplished!