So many times I’ve heard businesses — especially small businesses — say that social media just isn’t for them. It takes too much time. They’re not sure where to start or how to keep it going. And besides, they should be focusing on actually running their business –not just posting pictures online — right?
As social media continues to change the way people communicate, it has become an increasingly important tool for small businesses. Let’s face it: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn aren’t going away. While many social media platforms began as a way to connect friends and family, it’s become the norm for all types of business to have some sort of social media presence.
In today’s connected world, customers research purchases online and seek recommendations from friends and family. So, it’s in the best interest of small businesses to have a vibrant and interactive social media presence.
The time to embrace social media is now. It’s where your customers are, so go to them! Don’t be afraid to get close to them and give them a big squeeze.
Your return on investment for a few hours a week and a few clicks of a button can be huge. You can support and grow your brand while building and maintaining relationships with current and new customers. I’ve closed hundreds of speaking events through direct messages on Twitter and Facebook. Trust me, it works.
Quality beats quantity.
You don’t have to post all the time on your social media channels. But you do want your messages to get out there on a regular basis. Still, as a general rule of thumb of what and when to post, remember this: Quality always beats quantity.
Remember that customers shop at small businesses for value. Be radically transparent. Don’t be afraid to have a personality online and keep giving your customers something to come back for. When you build your relationships, you build your business.
Focus on community.
It’s been proven by experts that social media marketing can widen your reach, help you engage more audience and create more fans. But social media isn’t like traditional advertising where you put a message out into the world and hope someone responds. It’s more conversational and centered around the idea of a community.
Social media allows small businesses to directly communicate with their customers and has the potential to turn those customers into a virtual sales team. Conversations are two-way street. Make sure you’re replying to people who interact with you on social media. Engage with strong social influencers, such as bloggers that your customers read or individuals with robust followings. Engaging the online community is core to social media and one of the keys to your success.
You’ve invested the time. Invest a little money, too. Don’t be afraid to throw a little money behind your social media efforts.
If your budget allows, put some funds toward Google AdWords to help bump your website to the top of search engine results. To do this, you’ll need a defined list of keywords that represent you and are found frequently on your website. It’s important to have both in mind so you get the best bang for your buck.
You also amplify your social media message on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can develop very specific, targeted ads on these networks with just a few clicks. Know your audience, and you can easily promote posts, share offers, gain more followers and drive traffic to your website.
Repeat what worked.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If your social media efforts were successful, repeat the steps you took to do it again. It’s that simple! And if something doesn’t work, try something else. Just keep in mind, if you incorporate a Facebook ad that didn’t work, for example, don’t ditch the idea of advertising on social media. Try it again, redefining your audience or the amount of your investment.
Social media is a marketing tool like many others small business owners can use. It’s unique in that it can heighten a company’s visibility, broaden reach and engage current and future customers. But it will only work if you do it.