Your small business could reach a potential of 205 million customers within the United States alone. Also, there are over 2 billion active social media accounts worldwide that your small businesses can market to through various social media sites for free.
With the right strategies small business can use social media to generate a strong customer base that is always aware of new products, promotions and allows customers to communicate with business owners, as well.
At Able, we value the social following and activity of potential small business loan candidates, but we also know building and maintaining your social media presence isn’t the most pressing thing on your mind. Below are general tips for each platform, why you should consider the different tools, and examples of strong small business accounts to help you get started.
- Identify your small business goals and what you would like to accomplish using social media. Decide on a strategy encompassing what kind of material you will be posting and have a general outline of when you will be posting content so your followers know what to expect.
- While posting relatively frequently is important to keep your followers attention focused on your page it is also vital to make sure you are putting out meaningful and valuable content for your followers.
- Advertising an event through your various social media accounts can help pull in customers who follow you on social media but have not actually visited your business.
- Posting at a constant rate, not too frequently but also not too sparsely, prevents your followers from getting annoyed but also makes sure that they see your content regularly.
- Promoting your social media accounts through your website with badges and links makes it easier for your customers to find your account and follow you directly.
- Why: Yelp allows your small business to be reviewed by your customers so that anyone who is interested in your business may view your reviews. It also allows you to host Yelp events to attract new customers and keep previous ones. Research shows that customers are more likely to try new small businesses instead of major chains if they have high yelp ratings.
- Tips: Use Yelp to connect with your customers. For example if you get a great review, thank them, and if you receive a complaint make sure to reply, apologize and attempt to remedy the situation. Don’t ask for Yelp reviews directly, but make sure your customers know that you are on Yelp (place a sticker or sign on the window of your business, and a link on your website).
- Resources: http://biz.yelp.com
- Why: Everyone is on Facebook, literally everyone. Creating a Facebook page not only will let your friends, family and customers connect with your business, but also everyone within their network will be able to see that they liked, reviewed or commented on your page, drawing in even more views and potential customers.
- Tips: Post pictures of new products, business updates, and events on your page and interact with your followers as much as possible by liking and commenting on their questions and posts.
- Resources: https://www.facebook.com/business/overview
- Why: As a photo sharing social media site, Instagram can be very versatile in advertising your small business. Not only can it advertise your products or services, it can also give your customers a behind the scenes look at your business.
- Tips: Make sure to appropriately caption and hashtag your pictures as well as posting content at a comfortable rate considering Instagrams picture feed is chronological. Spamming people’s feed will create ill will towards your business.
- Resources: https://business.instagram.com/
- Why: Many people would think that a social media site that only allows you to post 140 characters at a time would not be very beneficial for promoting a small business but it does exactly the opposite. By forcing each post to only be 140 characters Twitter forces users to get straight to the point and post easy updates and reminders about events and products.
- Tips: Using Twitter to promote daily promotions or a specific event details can really draw in customers from your Twitter following. Additionally Twitter allows your customers to tweet directly at you with questions, comments and concerns, opening a direct line of communication between a business and it’s customer.
- Resources: https://business.twitter.com/
- Why: Creating a page for your business with Google will make sure that accurate information about your business is displayed when a customer or potential customer searches for your business on the most popular search engine. Not only will your business appear in the search results, your business will also be searchable on Google Maps, and you’ll be able to receive reviews from customers who have a Google account.
- Tips: Make sure your business profile is complete with an accurate address and working hours so that your customers have all your business information.
- Resources: https://www.google.com/business
- Why: Linkedin can help you develop your professional network as well as bring you customers. Developing a network of people around your business can help you find the best vendors and services as well as promoting your business to your entire network.
- Tips: Connect with existing contacts and use those connections to build bridges to new connections.
- Resources: https://smallbusiness.linkedin.com/small-business-marketing
- Why: Fivestar is a third party loyalty program that allows small to medium sized businesses to reward their loyal customers without having to worry about maintaining a rewards system of their own. This is an important business aspect that many small businesses can not accommodate on their own, even though they should be focusing on retaining current customers.
- Tips: Creating a loyalty program for regular customers is often more cost efficient than attempting to acquire new customers. Studies show that 80% of a business’ revenue comes from about 20% of its customers, therefore retaining customers is very valuable.
- Resources: http://www.fivestars.com/businesses/
All in all, these social media platforms can be powerful tools to help you grow your small business. Like with all tools, they are only as effective as the person using it, so take time to familiarize yourself with the unique ebbs and flows of each platform before you dive into promoting your business.
In the second part to this post we'll look at how to analyze key metrics and analytics in order to track these different social media platforms.
This is part one of a two-part series on social media. Next week, look for key metrics to track for the different platforms listed above.