by Katie Kosaya
Social media for small businesses is mainly about building brand awareness and encouraging engagement with leads and customers, but it should have a direct impact on your bottom line, too. Social media presence can help you achieve greater brand awareness, better online reputation, improved customer service/experience.
Remember a few rules: 1) Social media is not “free” because to make it effective you (or someone you hire) must devote time. 2) It won’t bring you immediate results, but like all marketing it will make returns over time. 3) Social media marketing efforts are inadequate in isolation. It can’t make up for a bad product or service.
Ready to get started? Here’s our 5 steps to get started with social media.
- Determine the best channels to use.
There are so many social networks out there! The most well known are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Vine, and some others. If you are a B2B company, consider LinkedIn; Facebook and Twitter are more effective for B2C companies. Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to maintain an active presence on every single channel. But remember that no single social media site is the Holy Grail. Experiment with a few sites, determine where your audience hangs out, and focus on the few that are the best fit for your company.
- Build relationship.
So many people have no idea that social media is work. They post links and have no relationship or interaction then become frustrated when no one posts or comments. At the end of the end of the day people buy from people and brands whom they know, like and trust. Listen, respond and engage actively with users – follow, share, retweet and like the content of other users.
- Offer online promotions and encourage user-generated content.
People use social media to look for new products and special discounts. Users see social media as a good source to learn about brand experiences, read reviews and make purchase decisions.Running promotions must be part of your overall social media strategy and not just be a one-off event. You can reward your followers and fans with special discounts and offers, run contests and sweepstakes. Promotions can increase engagement and interactivity with your brand and offer your customers a chance to become a part of the brand experience.
Engagement also means not disabling or deleting user’s comments. People will say what they’re going to say, whether you let them do it on your social media page or they have to use their own page. By allowing people to comment on your own wall, you can manage the conversation, monitor comments, and respond to people appropriately.
- Keep it updated!
Don’t just create accounts all over the Internet and abandon them, you need to constantly maintain activity on the social media websites. Not to mention the disappointment of people who write a comment and never get an answer from you since you don’t check your page. At the same time, don’t automate all of your updates – social media is about people talking with people, automating all your updates says “I don’t care about talking to you here. Just come read my content.”
- Spread the word!
Add your social media links to your own website, your email signature, product packaging, business cards. Also, don’t be afraid to simply ask people to follow/like/share your page and content. A call-to-action like “please retweet/share/like” can go a long way to generate more social activity, bringing you more fans and future customers.
Social media is not difficult; it’s about building connection and relationship with your desired audience, and it requires a commitment to spend some time to work at it. If you’re willing to make that commitment, then choose two or three channels to concentrate on and just dive in. We’ll pass along ideas for ways to create engagement and build up followers in the future. And of course, if you do want help with your business’ social media efforts – whether to get started or to get more from what you’re already doing – we’d be happy to help. Just contact us»