Friends, Fans, Circles, Likes, Plus 1’s, it can all be a bit intimidating for small business owners. The fact of the matter is though that Social media is not going away; if anything it is only going to have a larger influence on buyers’ decisions moving forward. So, do you sit back and pass it off as “something for the kids”, or do you take action and learn how to leverage small business social media as a catalyst for business growth?
Why small business Social Media Use is important.
Social Signals: Think of this like a testimonial for the online world. A user can make positive comment about your small business or brand. This comment can then be amplified to the rest of that commenter’s fan base, sharing your brand in a positive light.
Levels the playing field: Your message can appear in the stream or timeline of a target customer alongside the largest players in your field. The impact and power of having the ability to deliver compelling content in this way is phenomenal.
Access to a larger audience: As a small business owner you can be guaranteed a large portion of your target market are likely to spend a lot of time on social sites. This presents you with a great opportunity to engage with a large audience and humanize your brand.
Build your Brand: Social media sites are the perfect avenue to allow your customers to interact with you on their terms. If done in the correct manner, social media can be used to grow advocates of your brand that create a positive vibe about your business.
How do I get my Small business get Started On Social Media?
- Get a website. Setting up a website or a blog is the first step is to giving yourself the internet marketing advantage. Once you have a website created, it will act as your central hub, allowing you to get started with social media. In the past getting online was cost prohibitive and far too technically advanced for many small businesses but now there are an array of options available that make it simple and cost effective. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at, WordPress, Joomla or Blogger.
- Listen Before You Speak. Start by following key people or other businesses in your niche. Watch how they engage their audience and notice what methods and what style of comments and content produces the best level of response. Educate yourself on social media, and then decide how it could best suit your long term goals. Experiment and learn.
- Link to your website. One of the huge benefits of having an array of active social media sites is that you can connect them all back to your business blog which acts as your central hub or shop front. The more active and engaged social media communities that you are part of, the more doorways there are that go back to your shop.
- Have a social media strategy. Like anything in business, if you jump in without setting out a map for success then Social media can eat away at your time and your money, meaning there may be very little return for your investment. Be clear about your objectives from the outset, if you are just getting started then a high level strategy will suffice which you can adapt as you go along.
There is always a right way and a wrong way to do things and this is no different for small businesses embarking on their social media campaigns. Below are some of the key mistakes that are made.
Common Small Business Social Media Mistakes
Lack of Fresh Content. The search engines are keen to provide their users with the freshest and most relevant content. That means in order to get your blog noticed you need to update regulalrly. If your social media sites or blog have not been updated for a while then what impression do you think that gives to a potential new customer? Set a schedule as to when you will update and engage with your community and stick to it.
Giving Up. Small Business Social Media success is not going to happen overnight. Keep engaging and adding quality content and the tide will turn.
Not responding. If a customer walked into your shop and asked a question, you would answer them. If someone takes the time to mention you or ask you a question via social media then take the time to answer their question and give helpful advice, just as you would in the real world.
Not testing and tracking results. If you are posting 10 messages a day and getting no response then take a step back and try to understand why. Is it something about the content? Is the message relevant to the target audience? Always think about ways to improve how you deliver content in order to increase results. Testing and tracking is important to any small business marketing strategy.
It’s not all about you. Social media is not a soap box for small businesses to stand on and shout about their latest great product offering at the top of their voice. Social media is more about developing a community of people who are interested in what you have to say as it is provides entertainment, education or it is enlightening. If you get that part right then people will grow to trust and respect your brand and will be more interested in learning about your products and services.
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus are powerful social media tools that if used correctly can promote your business. However if you are going to be embarking on a small business social media campaign then make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, as having your business out there, warts and all can seem daunting. Being on these platforms puts you on the same footing as your customers; negative comments can be turned into positive ones, your brand can be humanized and you can get some real fans for your business that are well and truly worth their weight in gold.