Through social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), small businesses have an extraordinary opportunity to make personal connections with their customers; an opportunity that isn’t available to larger companies, and one that many small businesses fail to capitalize on.
If your small business utilizes social media outlets correctly, you’ll get feedback and questions from customers on a regular basis. Every timely and informative response makes a positive impression and improves your company’s reputation. Such communication, because it is less formal and does not necessarily need to take place during normal work hours, will make your business more personable and accessible. Large and mid-size companies do not have time to respond to the thousands of comments they receive, and are therefore unable to benefit from this.
In addition to customer service benefits, maintaining an online presence is an integral part of staying informed about new technology and keeping up on trends related to your industry. Often, your fans and followers will provide insight that you can use to better your business strategies.
Marketing through social media is a time commitment, but certainly not an unbearable one. According to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report conducted by Social Media Examiner, 75% of those spending as little as 6 hours per week on social media marketing saw increased traffic, and were almost twice as likely to see leads generated as those who spent 5 or fewer hours.
Most small businesses do not have the money to invest in advertising over the airwaves (TV or radio), and using social media is far more flexible than print advertising, giving you more control over your company’s image. It also has the capacity to reach a wider range of potential customers. For a small business, cost may be the most important factor, and even used to the most extreme degree, social media is a very cost-effect means of advertising.
Facebook Ads allows you to aim advertisements at either an extremely specific or immensely broad market, using a wide range of criteria (age, gender, relationship status, location, work, etc.) to target those in need of your service and therefore increase response rate. Facebook allows you to limit who sees your ad by almost limitless, smart, factors. Facebook also has a built-in analytics system, Facebook Insights, which allows you to analyze how your content is being received, and what type of posts generate the most response.
Things You Can Do:
1) Create a Facebook page for your business. Upload a logo and fill the “info” tab with vital information about your business. Make sure to keep your information up to date.
2) Create a Twitter account for your business. Upload the same logo as used on your Facebook page, and write an 140 character description of your company on your profile, including links to your website and your Facebook page.
3) Link your accounts together using the Selective Tweets application on Facebook.
4) Add links on your website to your Facebook and Twitter accounts (we use wibiya).
5) Facebook “like” buttons are all over the internet. Users who are logged into Facebook can simply click “like” to effortlessly share articles, websites, videos, etc. to their Facebook profiles. Essentially, Facebook has intertwined itself to the rest of the Internet. Make sure your company is part of this network and add a “like” or “share” button to your website.
6) Consider starting a blog on your website, using the Facebook Comments Plugin. Again, if any user who is logged into Facebook comments on your blog, they have the option of sharing that comment automatically on their Facebook profile.
7) If any of this seems too intimidating, or you just don’t have the time necessary to utilize social media effectively, think about hiring a professional to do it for you. At Got WWW?, we pride ourselves in our expertise in helping small businesses promote themselves through social media, and would be happy to assist you in this area.