If you’re like most small business owners, you've already jumped onto the social media bandwagon. You may even be posting the occasional tweet or sharing some interesting pictures with your fans. The problem is there is still no one following you or interacting with your posts, and you’re starting to wonder if the 10 minutes a day you spend posting content is worth your time. You’re a busy business owner after all!
The jury is still out on how effective social media marketing is in driving sales. However, experts agree that social media is a great way to have a conversation with your customers and build brand recognition. According to recent Nielson studies, Americans spend more time on social media than any other type of online activity. This is a huge pool of potential customers and clients that you can engage with through this medium.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Keep it social. People don’t go on Facebook to look at ads, but rather to make personal connections with people. Though your ultimate goal is to make the sale, you must do this through making a perceived personal connection with potential customers. Use informal language, engaging potential customers like you would a friend. Also, respond directly to what people are saying with comments (Facebook) or mentions (Twitter).
Be Likeable. Social media marketing is ultimately permission based marketing, so it’s only effective if you can maintain your following. When people follow you or “like” your page, they are opting in to receive content from you. This also means they can just as easily opt out. Post likeable content such as helpful tips, free giveaways or engaging conversation starters to keep people interested. Remember no one “likes” ads.
Be patient and stay active. Even good social media marketing strategies are long-term strategies that take time and diligence to implement. You should expect to spend some time daily being active on your social media sites. Online tools such as Hootsuite.com and Crowdbooster.com can be helpful in automating posts. Though you may not see an immediate ROI, social media can help in building customer loyalty and increasing the quality of your brand over the long haul.
Get the word out! Tell your customers to get involved in your social media. Ask customers to write reviews or engage with your social media. Put links to your social media on your emails, website, newsletters, etc.
Utilize each social media platform for what it is most effective in doing. There are dozens of different platforms out there, and each of them fills a different social need. A good strategy will utilize the strengths of each of these platforms. One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is trying to be on every social media site, while not staying active on any of them. With limited capacity, it is strategic for a small business owner to focus their efforts on the social media platform that best helps them meet their goals.
Which social media platform should I invest my time in?
- Are you high volume, quick transaction? Twitter.
- Does your business gather community or “fans” that like to engage with each other? Facebook.
- Is lack of knowledge a common barrier for your potential customers? Blogs such as Wordpress or Tumblr.
- Are you business to business (B2S)? Linkedin.
- Is your business heavily dependent on referrals? Yelp.
- Does your company utilize media heavily? Youtube.
For more practical social media tips check out Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen and 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business by Jennifer L. Jacobson.
Joseph Lee is the Marketing & Resource Manager for Accion San Diego, a nonprofit microfinance organization dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs through providing business resources and loans from $300 to $50,000.