Introduction by Leora: I was reading Scott’s guest post How to Monitor What Others Are Saying About Your Brand, and after making a comment about trying to convince a local business owner to use social media, I got my own guest post from Scott on this topic. Hope you find it useful!
As a small business owner who is surrounded by big-name brands and businesses, you probably feel like the odds are stacked against you at times, especially in a tough economy.
In order to hold your own and be able to compete with the best of them, it’s absolutely essential that you develop an online social media presence. According to the results of a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 72% of the adults who are online use social media sites. Furthermore, additional research has proven that in the United States, 8 out of 10 users of social media prefer to interact with businesses through social media as opposed to company websites. If you still need convincing that your small business should be using social media, perhaps knowing that campaigns on Facebook and Twitter have proven their effectiveness in the generation of quality leads. Regardless of what market you’re in, whether it’s computers, cars, clothing, etc., they will sell you on the idea.
With this in mind, here are some social media strategies you can use as a small business to take your marketing from good to great:
- Connect With People
Sharing great content is only half the battle. If you want to truly engage your customers and keep them around, it’s important to follow up with them through conversations. This could involve responding to questions and comments posted by users on your page, liking a user’s post, thanking them for their support, etc. However you engage with users, remember to be genuine and true to the personality of your business because most customers can sniff out phoniness a mile away.
- Feature Useful Content
Take a cue from Jason Falls, the creator of Social Media Explorer who also serves as a digital strategy Vice President. According to Falls, “The key for any marketing channel, whether it be social media, email, or advertising, is to provide your audience with content that is really useful to them.” So what does this mean for you? If you’re the owner of a small computer business, you could post frequently asked questions and answers or give troubleshooting tips.
If your company specializes in home décor, you could post ideas of ways customers can decorate with your products in their homes. If you own a science supply company, you could post ideas for activities and experiments that customers can do with your products. A heating company such as Haller Enterprises might post a list suggesting ways customers can be more energy efficient and lower their electric bill. Essentially, you want to think of what you have to offer the customer in terms of your products and services, and then empower the customer by providing them with information about those products and services.
- Consistency is Key
If you want to keep customers engaged, it follows that you need to post new content regularly. Optimal times for posting can depend on your business and what you’re selling. For instance, if you’re a school supply company, you might want to post on weekdays when teachers will be in their classrooms. If you’re a restaurant, your best bet might be to schedule posts for Fridays and Saturdays when you know people are getting ready to go out for the weekend.
Make Time for Social Buzz
So you get it that posting regularly and interacting with customers is important, but what about when you’re crunched for time and you don’t have much in terms of resources? In this kind of situation, the key is to plan ahead. Sit down for a few hours and map out the topics and content you want to cover on social media for at least 60 days in advance. Next, put some time into crafting the content so that you have enough for a few Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter each day. You can even use tools like Buffer or HootSuite to automatically post your content on various social media networks according to a set schedule.
Clearly, social media can do a lot for your small business, no matter what kind of company you are. Whether it’s promoting products and services or engaging and interacting with customers. When it comes to making your business a success, the opportunity is there. Now the only question is, are you going to take it?
Your Turn, Please
Questions by Leora: What examples of small local businesses using social media have you seen? Which ones work well and why? What are your ideas on social media for small business?