Social Media for Small Business

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1 Social Media for Small Business Social Media...Use it correctly and it s free advertising that comes with the voices and opinions of real users. The Social Media For Small Business Marketing Framework What is Social media marketing? Social media marketing is simply a way for businesses to use online technology to increase awareness, brand loyalty, and trust in order to generate new business. Sharing information and ideas via social media should be a natural way for us to communicate. While traditional marketing techniques consist of posting ads in print media and through commercials on radio and television, social media when used properly supports and enhances the effectiveness of those traditional messages by sharing your information online. The combination of using traditional and social media marketing together is critical to the success of your marketing efforts. Think about it, people might learn about your company through traditional media but as they spend more time online with smart phones and the web they need to be able to find you when they search online. Social Media Adds Content, Context, Connections, and Community to Your Marketing Efforts Social Media For Small Business and Online marketing still includes the 4 P s of marketing, but it also goes beyond them to include the 4 C s of marketing. Content, Context, Connections, and Community placed together equals Social media marketing. Only used by few before, social media has surprised many marketers and has grown to become one of the most desired tools in the marketing toolbox. Here are a few reasons why: 1

2 Social media marketing can be combined with traditional marketing tactics. Mixing old and new marketing techniques is the best way to leverage your marketing tools to get more bang for your buck. The marketing trend continues to grow every day across all types of businesses. Almost all businesses, big or small, are creating and building websites and blogs to connect more with their customers. It is a growing trend. Do you really want social media to get in the way of your small business success?...no! It s inexpensive! It doesn t cost anything to set up a Facebook page or blogger.com account. This allows businesses to lower their marketing costs, yet still effectively create brand awareness, retain current customers, and gain new ones. It's fun to create marketing through social media. Social media has become so versatile that now, it can be used for advertising your business as well as figuring out what bar you and your friends will meet up at tonight. Social media marketing allows a business owner to improve their business image while gaining more customers for their business at the same time. Marketers using social media get to create interesting websites, creativity in blogs, and a new look for their brand through channels like Wordpress, blogger.com, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Just think. would you rather change your businesses advertisement that is printed in millions of magazines or simply update your business Facebook page in a few easy clicks? It is much easier and cost effective to go with the second option. Creating an online presence through social media, in my opinion, is a crucial factor that small businesses must consider in todays day and age. The world and how we communicate with each other are ever changing, so why not utilize and leverage a marketing tool that can easily handle that change over time. 2

3 The process of using social media for small business goes a little something like this: Users generate the content that they would like others to see. Then, that content gets filtered and delivered into a context desired by people who want to get out there and meet new people, find new products, and share opinions within a set community. It all makes sense when you relate the process of Social Media to a well-known online community, such as Facebook. This is how I see it in my head. Before posting a status, a person will usually think their status through in their head so that they don t say something stupid for all to see. This would be considered the filtering part of the process. Once they have a status ready, they would type their status into the text box and post it onto the Facebook community for their friends to see. The context of the message is placing it onto the Facebook environment. Just like that, you can post a status on Facebook to promote your business or brand. It is quite simple. There are many other social media platforms that small businesses can take advantage of, which includes LinkedIn, Yelp, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Once you have the 4 C s established, it can add to lead generation, development, and conversion of your social media. How to Utilize Social Media Tools Social Media for small businesses is a way to achieve new access points into the market. As a small business, it is harder for you to get noticed compared to larger and well-known businesses. Larger businesses have the money to splurge on big marketing tactics, whereas smaller businesses are using their money to stay afloat and survive their early years. Social Media allows for somewhat of a perfect competition environment, such in a way where every business that has an online presence has access to the same tools to grow their business and brand through the web. Any business can essentially go online to create a Twitter account, Facebook page, or a Yelp page. To differentiate your business from others depends on how each business utilizes those tools. What is the best way to utilize social media tools for small business? The best place to start is to have the right marketing objectives. Think of objectives that will 3

4 help determine the future of your social media presence. These objectives can include goals of: Creating a positive perception of your business by creating a welcoming website or enhancing customer service through chat forums run by employees Increasing page views by a certain amount Increasing the number of customers your business has Setting a goal of having a certain amount of likes to your business Facebook page Utilizing a certain number of social media channels to reach your audience Creating an Online Presence For Small Businesses Now that you have explored what social media sites have to offer, you need something to tie all of your social media activity together. Here are a few common ways to do this. 1. Creating a primary website or blog will do just the trick. A website or blog is the perfect foundation for your business s online presence. It is also a good way to create trust with your customers. Customers need to have access to fully developed content, which would be on your website or blog. Blogs and websites should have links to other social media sites that your business may have. This would also be a great place to advertise your business upcoming events. 2. Fan pages on Facebook and Twitter feeds are ways to showcase links to your website or blog for your followers to click on and check out. Your website is where people can read more about what your business has to offer. The ultimate goal of social media marketing is to create awareness of your brand and an initial level of trust. This would lead customers to your primary website where they can learn more about your business and the products you have to offer. 4

5 There is a better chance of sealing a deal once someone has visited your primary website. Whenever I come across products being marketed through social media, I always try to find a link that will lead me to the company s main website. I want to go to the main site so that I can first know that these products do exist, and also to read more about the products and the company itself. I also feel more comfortable when I am on a company s primary website. To me, it is more professional when a business has a website or blog. If they do not, I tend to not shop at that particular business because I feel like I do not have enough information to make a purchase. Remember: Having social media sites AND a primary site for your business is very important in establishing credibility with your customers. It is also a great way to connect your social media efforts to each other. The Road to Social Media Marketing Before jumping deeper into social media for small business, following the social media marketing hierarchy will make your transition a bit easier. This hierarchy consists of the six levels of social media marketing. 1. Blogging. This is the first area of the social media marketing hierarchy to target for small businesses. This will be your doorway into other social media tactics and how you can achieve the 4 C s of social media marketing. Before writing your first blog, you should learn more about the blogging environment by reading and commenting on other blogs. From there, you should get a sense of the writing style of blogs and what type of feedback you would get from readers of blogs. Blogs are also great because they provide search engines with regular and fresh content to deliver to people searching the web. 2. RSS (really simple syndication). RSS allows you to filter content around certain subjects and repurpose/create content. You can collect this information without requiring you to constantly open new pages in your 5

6 browser. It is beneficial to use because it allows your website visitors to get automatic updates of content changes done to your website or blog. 3. Social Search. When talking about social media for small business this is an important area where small businesses can manage their reputation and grow their brand name. Using SEO and keywords can help small businesses rank higher in search engine keywords and allow more people to come across your business or blog. Small businesses should also take advantage of social search sites, such as Yelp. Surprisingly, only a few actual purchases are made over the web. This is true because most people are just researching the web in order to obtain more information on a product before buying. On that note, make sure your business comes off as appealing, likeable, and informational to others when they come across it online or else it will be overlooked. 4. Social Bookmarking will open up more channels to your business and will lead new customers to your site. Content on your website should be tagged on other online communities in order to increase user traffic flow to your business website. A popular social bookmarking site to use is called Delicious. 5. Social Networks. By now, you will have already established an online presence for your business through your blogs, social search optimization, and breadcrumbs (links) for people to follow back to your website or blog. This is all content that you now have available to share on a new social networking site like Facebook. It is best to use social networks if you have a lot of content to share on them. If you wanted, you could even build your entire web presence on the Facebook platform. This would be possible because anyone would be able to see your business fan page whether they are a Facebook user or not. Having this level of engagement allows for dynamic community-building to occur. The nice think about businesses that use the Facebook platform is that you can find their page and read reviews from other customers as well as see what specials a business may 6

7 be having that week. It encompasses the ideas of networking, advertising, and engagement with users all in one platform. Using the Facebook Ad page can also benefit your small business by allowing you to place ads throughout Facebook for many people to see. Remember to promote your Facebook fan page and don t try to sell any products through your ads on Facebook. This is yet again another way to use social media marketing to build trust with your customers. 6. Micro. This is where the use of a Twitter or FriendFeed would come into use. Also known as a form of micro blogging, Twitter is popular because of the immediacy it brings to its users. People can get minute-to-minute updates from businesses and other users. Customers can inquire to customer service agents about recent purchases made and get instant feedback. Micro blogging is concise and gets right to the point. It is listed at the top of the hierarchy because without content from blogs and social networks, micro can only go so far. How to Connect Your Social Media Platforms Social media allows for you to look into the potential of your business from different angles. Connecting your content to your other platforms through social media marketing is very convenient and easy. Talk about your blog in a twitter post or Facebook status. Make everyone know about it.friends, family, strangers, your neighbor. The more, the merrier! Place a tweetmeme button on a blog post for others to retweet the blog s link to their Twitter account. Use the share button of blogs linked on Facebook. People that are bored will usually filter through their Facebook home page until they see a link to a shared blog that sounds interesting to read. Thus, a new user will have access to your blog and will possibly share it on Facebook too it they want others to read it. This allows more people to see your content thanks to link sharing. Links, links, links! Place links of all of your social media platforms on your website, business Facebook, personal Facebook, LinkedIn, and signature. Take advantage of the unlimited space social media offers. 7

8 Act Natural, Not Pushy To effectively generate leads using social media for small business, one must let the user buy into the product. No one likes to be sold into an environment that they are not sure of. To get others to your site, it all starts with your social media activity. This is where you can engage with your followers and gain trust. Once trust is established, your followers will be led to the content you have displayed on your site, which will then lead to a possible sale. A sale will be more likely if the content on your site flows naturally and not as though it was written for a robot. All in all, let your followers come to you. Don t push yourself onto them because you will come off as desperate. Think of social media marketing somewhat like dating. No one wants to seem desperate in the world of dating. Act natural and your potential followers will be attracted to your business because they wanted to be. Not because you wanted them to be. The Advantage Social Media Gives Small Businesses Social media is becoming second nature to many small businesses. It is a marketing tool that engages more with customers compared to basic marketing techniques. Lets face it: it s free advertising that comes with the voices and opinions of real users. Who would not take advantage of that? Smaller businesses have the advantage of being able to understand their customers more because lines of communication are closer to the customer through social media. Customers can express their opinions to any sized business through social media, yet smaller businesses can have a faster response rate. This is where small businesses can go above and beyond to create a relationship with the customer that many large businesses cannot do. Social media creates a face for the brand that customers can trust and connect with. People can trust a smaller business more because they feel like they have more access to the small business compared to larger businesses. Social media marketing can go as far as you are willing to take it. Don t see it as separate from your other marketing initiatives. Integrate them together. I have seen almost all businesses in recent years link their Facebook or Instagram pages to their signatures and in newsletters. Businesses have even made t-shirts with their business tags for Twitter and Instagram on them so that people will check 8

9 out their social media sites. Soon enough, you will incorporate your social media activity to all that you advertise for your business because it will become second nature to you. Things to Remember when using social media for small business Take your time with social media marketing. Learn as you go instead of rushing to establish your presence online. The Internet is not going anywhere, I promise. Read other blogs. Subscribe to people s pages. Follow people on Twitter who are known to produce great content. Surrounding yourself with the work of others who are successful with their social media activity will help you in yours. Doing so will allow you to be more confident and smarter when you do take a dip into the pool of social media marketing. By Jim Weiskopf and Candice Tawiah 9

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