Social media is an invaluable and free tool that, believe it or not, many small businesses are not utilizing in their marketing efforts. Less than 20% of small businesses actually have websites that link to wildly popular social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. Most of the small business owners who don’t utilize social media say that they simply do not have time. Other small business owners indicate that they have no clue where to even begin to start a social media campaign. The reality is that you cannot afford to ignore the advantages that social media efforts provide.
Before taking advantage of these opportunities, you’ll first need a website. If you don’t have a business website yet, or are looking for new web hosting, check out hostgator.com for reliable and affordable packages. If you are among the owners not currently using social media to grow your business, you may want to consider attending a seminar such as the Ragan Communications’ 2012 Social Media and Community Managers Summit to expand your knowledge. Through attending workshops, you will learn how to manage your web presence, find the best platforms, use tools to measure content, share your company’s point of view in a more visual and engaging manner, and more.
In the meantime, we’ve compiled some helpful tips from the social media experts at Street Fight and Socialnomics to help you start making the most of this free marketing opportunity, increase brand awareness and generate leads.
Tips to Help Your Small Business Dominate Social Media:
- Integrate Social Media into Your Entire Business System: Small business owners should keep track of the traffic their social media networks are directing to their website. By integrating these efforts with such tools as Google Analytics and Omniture, you will clearly see the role social media outlets play in your marketing efforts.
- Get Your Timing Right: Tweeting or posting on Facebook during the optimal time of day is crucial. The perfect timing for a restaurant to send out messages with their lunch specials is around 11 a.m., while Happy Hour deals should be sent around 4-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the best days to post business-related info, as they are not as hectic as Monday or as close to the weekend as Friday.
- Give Deals and Discounts to Loyal Followers: A huge reason customers follow their favorite companies online is so that they can hear about special deals and discounts. Offer special promotions, online deals and exclusive discounts on your social media pages to give customers a reason to follow your company and to help generate sales and leads via this outlet.
- Their Friends Can Become Your Friends: Folks who have pages on Facebook and Twitter have an average of around 250 friends each. When business owners write posts and respond to customers, they promote social sharing to each reader’s network of 250+ people. By engaging with customers in conversation about your products, you can tap into that network for free.
- Check-in Sites are Great for Promotions: Foursquare and other check-in sites can provide an excellent opportunity for cross-promotion and customer acquisitions for your company. Connect with a customer via Twitter or Facebook and thank them for visiting, but also ask them to provide feedback about your company on sites like Google Places and Yelp to get the good word out.
- Track Your Social Media Success: It is crucial for small business owners to know how well their social marketing efforts are working. Keep track of metrics and measure your success over a given period. On Twitter, you should know which tweets are getting the most re-tweets. With Facebook, track which posts receive the most “likes.”
- Choose the Correct Platform for Your Small Business: Each social media site has a distinct style that may work best for a certain type of message or marketing idea. For instance, Facebook is great for posting photos or a new logo, but the same post lacks impact when used on Twitter. Small business owners should experiment to learn which type of content gets the best results on a certain social media site.
Social media can boost business, even with minimal effort. By following these expert tips, you can get your message delivered free to consumers who can help you get the word out about your product or service.