I’ve long proclaimed that every small business should utilize the power of social media in their overall marketing portfolio as a low cost, reputation building & marketing tool.
Marketing, and especially social media marketing, takes a lot of effort (time and resources) so a carefully planned and executed strategy is crucial to the overall success. What’s adding to the difficulty is that your social media efforts are very difficult to measure. You need to focus on long-term results, stay consistent and most of all stay involved.
Getting Involved in Social Media
So you have setup your Facebook fan page and your business profile on Twitter but nothing is happening. Sure, you get some visitors, engage, and see spikes in traffic to your main website from time to time but nothing converts to sales.
Here are a few suggestions for how small businesses can supercharge their marketing efforts by leveraging social media.
Create a Business Fan Page on Facebook – this is simply a must if you own any kind of a business.
With over 300 million users, Facebook has already surpassed Google in the amount of traffic it gets. What’s great about Facebook is that it allows anyone to build a powerful presence through not only the basic platform but application extensions. You should take advantage. While you there, check out your competitor’s fan pages to learn how they’re using Facebook.
By creating a fan page for your business you will reserve your company name as well, which is very important as Facebook will only become more crucial in the coming years.
Facebook also offers an add campaign program, much like Google Adwords but more localized and thus potentially very effective.
Twitter is the most rapidly adopted communication tool in history. Leveraging Twitter for your business should be a part of your current marketing strategy.
Sign up and reserve an account in the name of your business. Create an effective portfolio/background and start slowly. Your initial goal is to build credibility.
You can start by using the search function. Type in keywords associated with your brand and reach out to everyone talking about these items with a personally crafted “Tweet.” Reach out, expand and communicate.
Your updates should be a healthy combination of conversations, useful informative updates and helpful links (not only to your website). Don’t just bombard your followers with links to your landing page. Engage in meaningful conversations, share useful information and keep building your reputation. For further reading, I’ve rounded up 20 tips for Twitter success in a recent post.
Utilize tools like Tweetdeck, Seesmic or Tweetie. These Twitter desktop clients allow you to work with multiple accounts simultaneously, pre-define searches, and group people (so you can focus on the real content and keep the noise out).
75% of accounts at social media platforms are inactive. Don’t be a statistic. Create a strategy and stay focused.
Unlike Twitter or Facebook, LinkedIn is a business oriented social media network for professionals. With over 50 million users, LinkedIn is another powerful marketing hub you shouldn’t miss.
Once you create your account start building your account by connecting with your clients and friends. Request recommendations from past co-workers or clients, after a successful job. You’ll find such recommendations useful – particularly since your LinkedIn profile will come up high in search engine results.
LinkedIn offers many groups and you should sign up for a few that are related to your business. Here is where you can make more connections, get involved in the conversations, exchange ideas and build reputation.
4. Company Blog
A company blog can be very valuable to a small business. Small businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors; visitors mean sales and lead. However, blogging is a long-term investment and it requires lots of time and effort. Not every business can handle that so you need to decide whether a blog is something you want to invest in.
Blogging success depends on a few factors: how good your content is, whether there is an audience for what you write about and how effective your marketing efforts are.
While you can easily create a blog at WordPress.com I always suggest to setup your own WordPress blog (with your custom domain). While this will require more effort and resource, the benefits of having a blog with your business domain name is priceless.
5. Misc Tips
• Create an account on Yelp (site where visitors offer reviews about local businesses) if you own a brick-and-mortar store that caters to locals.
• Maintain brand consistency by always using the same username and profile, no matter what platform. Also, remember that your message should be consistent with your company’s core values, beliefs and objectives.
• Cross-connect Twitter and Facebook so that updates on one platform will automatically appear on the other – this will save you a considerable amount of time.
• Integrate social media into your blog by using the TweetMeme retweet button of ShareThis tool to enable readers quickly share your blog posts.
• Participate on other blogs by leaving meaningful comments to build reputation and credibility.
Social media marketing can be a great, low-cost marketing tool for small businesses. Engaging in social media starts the relationship-building process and gives your business an authentic voice. Through providing value, communication and collaboration with others, you will promote your business & build valuable relationships.
Don’t rely on social media marketing as the only way of generating sales. Every business needs to have a marketing mix that consists of more than one tactic so that your entire sales revenues are not dependent on the performance of this one media source.