Monday, November 25, 2013

Social Media for Small Business

Social Media for Small Business - Don't Over Complicate Things!

Social Media for Small Business


I get a lot of questions from customers regarding social networking. The majority of them feel it is something they should be doing.  But many have a fear of taking the plunge... due in part to concerns with not having enough time.

Being active on social media doesn't have to be overly complex.  A few minutes a day can get the job done for 99% of the small businesses out there.  Here are some thoughts on how a small business can benefit from being "social".

What Is Social Media?
According to Wikipedia, "social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. It introduces substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals."

Why Small Business Should Incorporate Social Into their Marketing Efforts
Audience Reach + Relationship Building = Establishing Authority
"Social media give us the opportunity to create relationships, foster communication, & build trust."
Which Social Networks are Best Fit?
  • Facebook - Business pages on FB are a way to connect with folks on a personal level.  
  • Twitter - Good for promoting events, news and specials (i.e., restaurants).
  • Pinterest - Pinning is a simple sharing tool for retailers/manufacturers whose brands lend themselves to images.
  • Google+ - A way to reach a professional or technical audiences that might shy away from the other social networks. Myself included ;-)
  • LinkedIn - B2B companies who cater to the professional market.
     
Managing Content Doesn't Have to be Time Consuming
Of course this depends on how often you want to engage with your audience.  But a few updates per week, to show that you are active, can go a long way.  You should always be listening and responding to questions and comments.

Time saving social sharing tools such as Hootsuite, can help you author once, and publish many.  A single post can be shared across all of your social networks, with the click of a mouse.

Measuring ROI
You can measure "social signals" (likes, plusses, favorites, comments and shares).  Don't be afraid to ask customers how or where they found out about your company.

How To Get Started
  1. Claim and Verify - I recommend, at minimum, customers claim their business pages on all of the major social sites listed above.  They should be reviewed for accuracy and consistency.  Things like phone number, address, hours of operation, should all be verified.
  2. Publish - Post updates or share links a few times per week...industry news, tips and tricks, product announcements, etc.  This will help establish credibility and authority on a particular subject matter.
    For example, if you sell or fix widgets, let folks know about innovations, trends, and success stories.
  3. Listen - Social networks are set-up to notify you (email or SMS) when someone sends you a message, leaves a comment or replies. It's important to respond in a timely manner.
  4. Adapt - You may find that your target audience is more active in one particular stream. If most people are engaging with you via Google+ or Pinterest, then you might want to focus more effort there.
Summary
Most small business owners (like myself) are juggling numerous tasks. Adding social to the mix can sound daunting.  But social media doesn't have to consume hours of your day.  A few minutes per morning is often enough time for you to stay connected with your "followers".

A successful social media campaign doesn't happen overnight.  It takes time to build trusting relationships.  However, if you OFFER your target audience VALUE, being "social" can help bring in a completely new channel of business.

Patrick LaJuett
Patrick LaJuett manages a website design agency: + LaJuett.com, where he supports clients as a Web technology consultant and search marketing strategy advisor.

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