Businesses have always been encouraged to ‘take the product to the customer’, well in today’s society everyone is on social media, almost everyone has social media accounts and are constantly accessing them through computers and smart phones.
For a small business it is a huge advantage to have your target audience all in one place, social networks also allow you to attract more people. Some people may never have heard of your business but may scrawl through a newsfeed and see you. The more a business is seen, the bigger it grows.
Chances are that your competitors are already out there taking full advantage of it.
The value of listening
Social media is important for any business but it is extremely important for small businesses. A small business means a small budget, small team and less time. You can take advantage of social media and use it to sympathise with people who have had a bad experience with a company that offers similar services. By doing so you are ‘listening’ to them. People value being ‘listened to’ and will turn to you in the future.
Twitter is fantastic for this kind of thing, everyone uses Twitter to rant or complain and you can use it to offer them a shoulder, which in turn will create a positive image of your business that will be recommended to others by that customer/person.
The great thing about using social networks for marketing is that it is, for the most part, free to use. Having a face for your business is great, add a personality to it and things really begin to pick up. Profiles on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, humanise businesses; making them more approachable and trustworthy. People like to be able to communicate with other people rather than machines, a business with a social profile makes the business available to the public.
With social media, you can advertise your business in a way that does not seem like advertising. Also, social media has access to aspects of people’s profiles that can be used to target them. In this way you are able to advertise to the right people who are more likely to respond. People are less likely to consider your promotional updates and vouchers as ads because they are able to interact with them and so will be more open to what it is you have to say.
With an audience that is willing to listen to you, you as a business can provide them with incentives and information that would encourage them to come to you, even if you are simply promoting your services. Offering giveaways and discounts in this way will bring new customers to you and existing customers will continue to come back.
If someone likes what they see on social media or if they think one of their friends or followers may find it useful, they will share it and promote it. This is great because when they do that more people will see your small business and you will generate a bigger client/customer base.
Although customers do use social media to voice their complaints, your business can address the issue there and then; this will result in two things: the customer is delighted that their problem has been acknowledged and solved quickly, and you can see and fix the flaws and issues that rise thus making your business more effective.
It is also important to acknowledge that happy customers also leave messages and updates on social media, which in turn makes your small business look fantastic; encouraging more people to view your profile and even direct more traffic to your website.
As well as apologising to customers, you can use your social media accounts to thank customers and acknowledge their opinions. Being able to communicate with your target audience in this way builds a relationship that can be developed into brand loyalty, which results in lifelong customers, this is incredibly useful to small businesses in particular.
Starting with social media
Knowing that social media marketing is useful is one thing; coming up with a way to implement it is different.
- The best way to go about creating a strategy is to pinpoint fixed goals and create tactics that all work towards them
- Once you’re clear on your objectives, have a look and see what others are doing and make notes of what seems to be working
- One of the most important actions you take is that of creating or updating your social accounts. They are the face of your business. Each social media platform is different and each of your accounts needs to be built in accordance to the target audience that will help you reach your goals
- Another useful tact is to promote your accounts across different platforms; this will help build awareness of your profiles.
Using a plan will help you keep an eye out for what is being done and what can be done to help reach your goals and observing similar businesses will help you with ideas and give you an inkling of what works well and what needs to be avoided.
If you think carefully in your initial planning and set out goals, you will find that social media marketing is not at all time consuming and can be handled by a small number of people. An hour a day of social networking will produce fantastic results.
These social networking sites also provide ad packages that are affordable. You can pick a package that suits your businesses needs and budget and build from there.
Possibilities are endless with marketing online. Promoting a small business has never been easier.