If you’re a small business owner, and you feel that social media marketing is not for you or not within your budget, you’re probably wrong. Social media is actually one of the most affordable marketing channels available to you – far more affordable than traditional marketing. All social media platforms are pretty much free – the blogging platform WordPress.org, and accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and LinkedIn.
It’s not that social media marketing is going to be completely free. You will likely find that you need to hire a blogger to maintain your blog and social media accounts, and at least when it comes to Facebook pages, some initial advertising is the only way to grow your number of fans. You might also find that you want to hire a web designer to design your blog, although there ARE high-quality blog themes available for free, and others are very affordable.
Still, considering the costs of print ads and live events, online marketing is cheap and accessible and you should take advantage of it. Here are five social media tips for small businesses:
1. Start a blog. There are many reasons to add a blog to your website, including establishing yourself as an expert in your industry, better search engine rankings, and increased traffic to your website. Make sure you update the blog weekly, at least at the start. Later, once it’s established, you can update it less frequently.
2. Be where your audience is. I’m not a big fan of Twitter – I find that for most of my clients, it doesn’t really send much traffic to their websites. Still, if your audience hangs out on Twitter, you should be there too, listening to what is said about your brand (and responding as needed), answering questions, and growing your following. If, on the other hand, you’re a B2B company, there’s not much point in a Facebook page – most people visit Facebook in a “personal” mode, not in a “B2B buyer” mode.
3. Integrate online and offline advertising. Add your blog URL and your social media accounts URLs to offline marketing materials such as brochures. This acts as social proof, demonstrates that you’re up-to-date on all the new social tools, and invites potential customers to visit your online community and become part of it.
4. Be interesting. Social media moves fast, and your audience is constantly exposed to new content. You need to stand out – so make sure you produce high-quality content that your target market will actually find useful and interesting. Don’t churn out boring, repetitive material just for the sake of posting something.
5. Engage your audience. Unlike traditional advertising, social media is a two-way conversation. It may feel threatening to brands used to broadcasting their messages to a silent, passive audience, and indeed there is some risk in giving a voice to your customers, but the risk is well worth it, since the two-way discussion can foster a connection and loyalty that traditional advertising cannot. So ask questions, post polls, and allow your fans to speak their opinions – as long as they are civil and polite, of course.