Are you using social media?
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs: for those who aren’t tech-savvy, the ever-evolving world of social media can be confusing and even a bit intimidating. But the truth is, if you’re not using social media for marketing, you’re putting your small business at a serious disadvantage.
The recent 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report confirms that social media has been instrumental in helping small businesses grow over the past three years. In fact, small business owners are reaping the most benefits from social media marketing according to the study.
Of 3,342 self-employed or small business owners, 88% reported that social media has helped them increase their exposure. 72% claimed they saw increased traffic and subscriptions. Small business owners were more likely than any other group surveyed to see increased exposure, with 89.2% reporting positive results.
Not convinced that social media is worth your time? Take a look at these other facts:
- 59% of self-employed and small business owners reported new partnerships as a result of social media.
- They were twice more likely to find qualified leads than other types of businesses.
- 48% saw improved sales.
- 59% of the self-employed and 58% of the small business owners were more likely than others to see reductions in marketing costs while using social media marketing.
Now is the time to get serious about seeing your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts as powerful marketing tools. Here are the top five tips to expand your social media presence.
1) Gather a following. If you’ve opened social media accounts and have neglected them, you’ve probably collected few followers. Get the word out about your social media presence the old fashioned way: word of mouth. Mention it to clients, partners and customers. Let people know in your email signature, on your business card and in advertisements. Send emails to customers, friends and family with direct links to your pages. Incentivize people to follow your business online with promotions and give-aways. The bigger your online community, the more credibility you gain.
2) Be consistent. Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or blogging, make sure that you’re consistently updating your content and communicating with your followers and readers. Whether you update once a day or a few times a week, your content should consist of high-quality, useful information. Share updates about your business, offer deals and discounts, or offer resources that may be valuable or to your customers. While you don’t want to barrage their newsfeed by overloading them with information, you need to stay on their radar – that way, you won’t become a victim of “out of sight, out of mind.”
3) Be giving. As the old adage goes, in order to get, you’ve got to give – and the same is true in the social media sphere. Provide your expert advice and solutions, and do so without expecting anything in return. Knowledge is money, but by showing generosity to others, they’ll be more apt to turn to you when they need to purchase your product or service. You can do this by leaving comments on other people’s pages or inviting followers to directly ask you questions. This way, you will be seen as a dependable, go-to resource in your industry.
4) Build actual relationships. It’s essential that you engage your customers by starting conversations, providing feedback and thoughtfully answering their questions. It’s easy to post information, but if you want to build a loyal fan base, you’ll need to interact with your followers as much as possible. You never know which of these relationships may progress into a real-life relationship with a client, vendor, partner, etc.
5) Sync up your accounts. There are ways to sync up your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that when you post to one, it posts on the other. LinkenIn and many blog platforms will also sync to your Twitter updates. This way, you’re getting much more bang for your buck by reaching customers across different networks while keeping your branding and messaging consistent.