Social media is hard to avoid these days – everyone seems to have at least one account on a social media website. So when marketing your company – whether big or small – you have to go where the people are. You may think that only big name companies can be successful on websites like Facebook or Twitter, but social media is the ideal platform for small businesses running marketing campaigns on tight budgets. Here are 5 ways small businesses can use social media successfully to market their companies.
Social media is all about connecting, engaging and interacting with customers and it puts customer service on a whole other level. Facebook and Twitter gives users the ability to post or tweet comments or questions directly to you, which allows for a more informal and real-time approach to helping customers. Asking for customer feedback, suggestions or comments will help to start the conversation flowing if you’re finding interaction to be one-sided. And, it’s important to respond to ALL customers, whether positive or negative. Keep the communication honest and open and your customers will appreciate the effort.
For small businesses, networking is a great way to generate leads and find prospective customers. Social media sites liked LinkedIn make it easy for small businesses to network professionally from the comfort of their computers. Connections are made first through people you already know but from there you can find mutual connections, follow companies, join discussions, and take part in Q&As. All of this gives you a continuously expanding professional network at the tip of your fingers.
For small businesses that are wary of the enormous costs associated with traditional media like print, radio and television, social media gives you an inexpensive and measurable alternative. And again, because everyone is already using social media, it’s become the best place to advertise. The Facebook and LinkedIn advertising platforms are web based, easy to use, and cost effective. Your budget is up to you, you can start, stop and modify your ads at any time, and you only pay when someone clicks. On top of that, you can easily measure the results of your campaigns through metrics that allow you to analyze impressions, clicks, click through rates and spend while your campaign is running.
If you’re thinking about using social media for your business, chances are you’ve got a website already. Inbound links are links from external sites that bring traffic to your website. The more your website is linked on outside sources, the more traffic or referrals you’ll get. Plus, inbound links help increase your ranking in major search engines if the inbound links are relevant and of good quality. So posting information to your blog which links to your website, then posting to Facebook and LinkedIn, and tweeting it on Twitter can create direct clicks, shares, or re-tweets – all of which contributes to inbound traffic to your website.
Get your name out there! I’ve said it twice and I’ll say it again – go where the people are. You might find social media intimidating (“what if no one ’Likes’ us?”) but it’s all about interacting and building relationships, no matter how many people are watching. Don’t expect major results over night and don’t try to compete with the big guys, but stay active online by posting relevant, interesting and fun information on a regular basis and eventually you will have built your own community within the larger social media framework.
Since social media is still relatively new to most people and seems to be constantly changing, it’s a good idea to keep on top of the latest trends and to pay attention to what other businesses are doing. Regular research helps to keep your business in the know when current social media platforms make significant changes or when new platforms are released. A good way to stay on top of the trends is to subscribe to RSS feeds from reliable tech news sources such as Mashable or Social Media Examiner. Tech blogs and Twitter trending topics can also give you an idea of the latest in social media development.
When it comes to social media the key is to watch what other people are doing, stay on top of what’s current and, most importantly, have fun with it!