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Are you a small business owner that is currently not using social media effectively to market your business? You’re not alone. A whopping 76% of small business owners are not using social media, according to this study. That’s an unfortunate statistic because small businesses have a huge opportunity to retain customers and build relationships with new prospects through social media.

“I just don’t know where to start” is one of the biggest reasons small businesses aren’t active on social media. That’s just not a good enough excuse, and I’m here to help.

Social media can be overwhelming, there’s no doubt about it: Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Foursquare? And the list goes on. It’s hard to know which platform is the best for your small business. For starters you need to establish what your goals are for social media. Ask yourself, are your goals:

  • Lead generation?
  • Brand awareness?
  • Customer service?
  • To show up in Google maps?

Once you’ve established your goals you also need to understand where your customers are.

If you fit into the “mom and pop” shop category (let’s say a local restaurant, auto body shop, handy man, coffee shop or car wash) a lot of your social media strategy should be around showing up on Google Maps and gaining positive reviews that show up in Search Engines. The same applies for a local law firm, medical practitioner’s office, dentists etc. If your small business can benefit from online reviews, you should encourage your customers to write reviews. Social Media and Local SEO work together to increase your visibility online and bring a flood of new customers via the power of the internet.
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Here’s a list of sites where you should claim your listing or “business citation”:

Not all of these are considered “social media” sites, but one social media site you should absolutely should be active on is Google +. We have an awesome eBook you can download here about how to create and optimize your Google+ Business Page. FourSquare is a social media site that encourages those who visit your business to “check-in.” Although Foursquare lost a little bit of its novelty because now you can also check in on Instagram, Facebook, etc. small businesses should still take a look to see if Foursquare can work for them.

If you’re in the travel/activities/hotels/restaurant industry there’s new potential with Facebook since they rolled out their new Knowledge Graph Search. Some of the ways people will be searching on Facebook graph search will look like this:

  • Where are hotels that my friends have stayed?
  • What’s a new restaurants within 15 miles from my house that has drink specials tonight?
  • What bar have at least 10 of my friends been to?
  • What wineries in Napa Valley have my friends been to?
  • What do my friends do when they go to Canada?

As Facebook Knowledge Graph evolves, the opportunity to gain new business through social media is huge. Take a look at how to optimize your business page for Facebook Graph Search. Also don’t count out Pinterest and Instagram to promote beautiful photos of your destination or fun lifestyle photos.

If your small business is in the technology/IT/computer industry you should consider using Quora to answer tough questions that people need solved that pertains to your product or service. Although you might consider your industry “boring” there are still people who need your product/service. Your challenge will be finding where those customers are conversing online, so you can be helpful to them.

If your small business falls within the home & family industry there’s huge potential to market your product or service on Pinterest. Let’s say you’re a wedding planner or make custom gardening supplies, Pinterest is a great visual platform where you can grab people’s with images. Those who own boutiques, jewelry stores or any other kind of small business retail store should also get started with Pinterest.

Not all companies are right for every social media platform. There’s really no question that you should be on Google+, and I would suggest testing Facebook and Twitter and seeing how you can make them work for your particular business. When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, a strategic content marketing plan is what will fuel your success.

Twitter is also a great customer service tool and conversing with current clients by re-tweeting and thanking them for mentioning your business. When you start using Twitter, remember it’s a dinner table, not a microphone. Place a priority on answers tweets that mention your brand and all direct messages.

Hopefully this post gave you an idea where to start. Once you’ve set up your Google+ Places Listing and added business citation (your name, address and phone number) to the sites listed above you should then dabble with other social platforms to see which ones work best for you. After you’ve got your start with social media, come back and check out our content marketing eBook to learn about the types of content you should be creating for SEO and social media.

If you have any specific questions about how your particular business can get started with social media, feel free to leave a comment down below!