As much as many trends come and go, there’s no doubt that social media has proven to be far more than a just another trend. Instead, web sites like Facebook and Twitter have single-handedly launched many small businesses into stardom on little to no marketing budget. While this is great news to the small business owner, it can also be overwhelming. Where do you start? What’s the most effective use of your time? While this area of expertise is vast enough to have become its own career field, here are four important social media tips that all small businesses should know right now.
The “Storefront” Theory – As a small business owner you know the importance of giving off the best first impression to your customers. Whether the face of your business is your storefront or your web site, your social media is an extension of the brand. Just as you wouldn’t open a new store and not equip it with furniture, products or staff, you shouldn’t open a social media account if you can’t equip it with adequate information and fresh content. Instead, choose 2-3 social media sites that are most applicable to your business and most likely to put you in front of your target audience. Then, put your full social media efforts into maintaining these profiles exceptionally well!
Go for the low hanging fruit – Even if your Facebook Fan Page is just getting started and only has 5 “Likes,” you can still create an attractive profile with all your business information to create a positive first impression. As much as you can’t control how quickly your network will grow (and sometimes it’s a slow and steady process), focus on what you CAN control like how your profile looks and what it says. A well designed profile makes your business look professional and trustworthy, whereas an empty profile looks like an afterthought or lack of follow through.
Talk TO your audience, not AT your audience – Social media is all about engagement. Your Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account aren’t designed for hard-sell advertising tactics. Instead of bombarding your fans and followers with links to your web site or announcements of your latest sale, try asking them questions to engage them in discussion. Your social media network can also be one of your greatest assets for free market research if you utilize it.
Remember – time is money – Maintaining social media for your business can be very time consuming if you aren’t naturally hardwired to understand various platforms. Be sure to weigh the costs and benefits of using YOUR time to maintain your accounts. In some instances, outsourcing this work to another employee, intern or a separate social media management firm can actually be cost effective. It keeps your social media up and running, but allows you to get back to doing what you do most efficiently.
Are you a small business owner or a social media guru? Share some of the tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way to incorporate social media into your marketing strategy!