A lot of small business owners tend to have their own way of getting things done and earning a profit. It depends a lot on the type of business their running. There are however, a few solid and reliable practices that a small business owner can implement to help him get an edge over the competition. We will be focusing on social media related tips. I know it’s been mentioned and written about heavily on countless blogs and websites, but it’s always a good thing to go through these types of list to make sure you’ve got all of your bases covered.
“How do we take advantage of social media to help our business grow?” A decade ago a similar questions was asked “how do we take advantage of the internet to help our business grow?” The answer then was to establish presence online and make sure people can find you. The same idea still holds in the present but now we also need to know how to ensure our customers share their positive experience with others. Social media has been described as word of mouth on steroids, which is certainly true but doesn’t give us the whole picture. It’s more apt to say that social media sites have shrunk the world even further and big businesses now have to deal with their customers as if they were a small business. So how do you do it?
Build Your Presence
Establish your presence and expand your reach. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Linkedin – These are the major social networking sites that you need to be on. Your customers are on these sites, you should be too. AND they should know you’re on there too. Driving new customers to your site should be a priority. You might consider putting a sign outside your location that contains a link to your social network profile.
Maintain Relevance and Accountability
Have an interesting, relevant and honest site. The like or RT buttons are just one click away – the best kind of free targeted advertisement. Conversely, unfollowing is easy and block buttons are usually just a click away. Get your customers to talk about you and talk with you. Engage and entertain them to build rapport.
Get your customer’s Feedback
Goodwill and Trust enable sales. A simple concept but social networks tend to multiply its effect. A comment on your site from a satisfied customer is an effective form of advertising. A satisfied customer who shares their satisfaction on their social media profile is even better – they will bring in sales.
Respond to Feedback
Consistent, reliable and timely feedback. Give your customers a direct line to you, their feedback is important. A business that effectively manages its social media will be able to head off any fall out from a negative feedback. Perhaps even turn it around and take advantage of it. Aside from social networking sites a small business in the food and service industries should be on the review aggregator sites as well. Although it is preferred that customers post feedback to your page directly instead of other places, it is well worth the effort to also monitor sites like Yelp, Zagat and even Google places. Basically, any site where a review can be posted.
Aim for Repeat Business
Encourage repeat business. Never tire of asking customers to follow your profile on the different social networking sites. This is an investment that will definitely pay out in the future. Having your customers become fans or followers of your profile is like having the ability to whisper softly into their ears. Compared to SMS marketing which usually turn people off, marketing on social media is more acceptable for small businesses – provided you don’t spam their feeds and make your posts interesting and relevant. Just insert a few pitches or promos from time to time between interesting posts to encourage customers to check what you have in store for them.
Know your Customers
Social networks offer you a chance to learn about your customers. Facebook insights are available for admins on fan pages. There are companies that offer to generate a report on your twitter followers, but these are mostly used by larger companies due to the cost. You need to fine tune your strategies to fit your customers. There is no silver bullet when it comes to small business marketing on social media. There are tried and proven strategies but that is never a guarantee it will work for you. Contests might be something your customers will be interested in but if you’re a business that caters to a very busy set of customers, you might want to offer coupons instead.
Updating and Revising
Keep yourself updated on any new social media developments, even the established industry names like Facebook can get blindsided by new players. Take Instagram and Pinterest for example. The interest generated by these sites should tell you that you need to be on them or use them to your advantage. The online environment is consistently shifting and reinventing itself. There were a lot of businesses that invested on well-designed landing pages on Facebook only to have them become obsolete after they no longer allowed users to be funneled to those pages. Same with tabs, this got restricted to a few thumb marks on the front page.
A small business can make do with a basic website but not without a social media presence.In conclusion, small businesses can feel like established businesses once they have a relevant and consistent presence in social networking sites. A good reputation and effective engagement creates good will with customers which in turn generate good word of mouth and finally, sales for you.