Small businesses have to be extremely careful with their time and budget. Most understand that social media is an extremely important part of modern business practices, but they either do not have the time, money, or experience to do it right.
Social media is not just for big businesses with huge budgets and a dedicated staff. It can be the key to success for smaller businesses, too. It is the perfect way to engage with potential clients, gain more online presence, and set yourself apart from the competition.
You actually might even have an advantage as a small business.
Why is social media beneficial to small businesses?
Social media platforms are a great place for small businesses to increase engagement and gain loyal customers. In fact, they have a few advantages and can do some things that the big guys cannot.
With a smaller business, you can respond to followers’ questions and comments quickly and clearly. You can provide real-time answers and give a voice to your business without having to run everything past the legal department.
Many small businesses interact more with their followers by hosting giveaways and promotions. You may not have as many participants, but that just means your customers have more of a reason to follow and engage with you online.
With a small business you can communicate your personality through your interactions with potential customers. Big businesses have many hoops to jump through and corporate executives to please. As a small business you have more room to your personality and give your business a voice people can relate to.
This type of marketing can often help keep a small business afloat. If customers are having problems, you can quickly (and publicly) address them. If they are satisfied with your service, they will share it with a huge community. Customers aren’t afraid to post their true feelings about a company’s services or products, and getting real feedback can improve your reputation and help your business cater to the needs of your clientele.
What are the best social platforms to use?
Small businesses have limited time and cannot maintain a good presence on all the networks. It can be difficult to know which is best for your company, but understanding their characteristics can help narrow your focus.
Facebook is where the most people are – so it can’t be ignored. Pinterest is great for businesses that have a visual focus or lot of individual products. Twitter is fast and simple. Google+ is critically important for search engines.
You have to prioritize. Who is your audience? Where are most of your potential customers spending their time? What age group are you targeting? Matching your audience to the audience of a specific social network will result in the greatest conversion of followers to customers.
How do you get involved in social media that creates results?
There is some method to the madness of promoting your business through social media. As you dive into marketing, your top priority should be to build a relationship with your customer. Be creative. Be entertaining, and be engaging. Try some of the following ideas to get followers to interact with your business.
- Offer special deals to online followers. Post coupon codes. Mention offers just for followers.
- Post videos on YouTube. Include links in your posts to videos that promote your products.
- Answer customers’ questions and concerns. Engage in conversations with them and maintain positive interactions.
- Post trivia and questions to keep followers interested.
- Make connections with other businesses and important online figures. Everyone online has their own agenda. Do your best to support others and you will receive support in return.
How do you move past "just posting things" and turn your social media campaign into a profitable marketing channel?
The key to marketing through social networks is conversation. You must engage with your audience. This is the key to forming a relationship with followers that will turn them into loyal customers.
Try to make your online interactions similar to those you would have in real life. Find your customers, engage them, invite them to check out your offerings, and make it an easy for them to talk to you – just like you would do in person.
When posting, keep your audience in mind. What do they like? What do they care about? Post questions and polls to encourage conversation. Post pictures of other customers with your product. Give everyone a chance to be part of your feed by asking for submissions or suggestions. Post information to educate and entertain followers. Keep posts light-hearted and humorous. If you are putting a smile on your followers’ faces they are more likely to start a relationship with you.
We live in a world where everyone has their smartphones with them at all times because we don’t want to miss a single update. If your business is not currently using social media, it is time to start. Social media is an important marketing tool and can keep your business relevant as you get involved with your customers and others in the industry.