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How Small Businesses Can Use Social Media to Level the Playing Field
by Mike Wolpert Mon, 08/12/2013 - 09:01
Social media is the best alternative to the high cost and limited reach of traditional marketing for small businesses. Free from the restraints of ad page space and broadcast time, social media levels the playing field for businesses of all sizes. Now, it’s much easier and more effective for small businesses to tell their stories, promote their brands, connect with new prospects, and deliver great customer service online. When done well, social media drives loyalty, sales, and ultimately, revenue.
Below is a brief rundown of what you need to know about Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, along with tips on engaging your audience through these platforms to get the highest ROI.
Why it’s good for business: Customers increasingly look to trusted recommendations from friends and family to make purchasing decisions. Fortunately, having an active Facebook presence makes garnering these recommendations relatively easy and can help drive brand advocacy. Facebook makes it easy for users to recommend brand pages to their friends, and it shows users which of their friends already “like” a particular brand page. This offers social validation to businesses.
What you should post: Businesses have a unique opportunity to share a variety of content on Facebook, such as links to blog posts, photos, or videos. These posts should either provide value or help form a personal connection with your audience. Consider what you can post that will make your customers feel good about your business and what can drive them to buy your product or service.
Why it’s good for business: People who use Twitter tend to be fairly engaged, using it several times a day to quickly share and exchange information. Twitter might seem like a giant rushing river of information, but it’s crucial that your small business is a part of it. For example, if you run a yoga studio and users search for tips or content about yoga on Twitter, tweets from your studio should appear in that search.
What you should post: Along with information about your business, promotions, and relevant industry-related content (e.g., links to blog posts, interesting articles, useful tips), it’s important to reply and retweet on Twitter. A retweet or reply is essentially Internet applause, meaning that you find what a user tweeted to be funny or valuable enough to acknowledge.
Do your research. Let’s say you run a local restaurant. You see that one of your recent followers has a family. Tweet something about your kids’ menu or your family-friendly atmosphere. It shows you took the time to personalize your message and create a human connection with that particular user.
Why it’s good for business: Users of this social platform tend to be early adopters of technology who can have a big influence. The marketing industry is quickly learning the extraordinary value Google+ gives them. Why? It’s simple: Google wants Google+ to succeed, so businesses that use Google+ may be favored by Google’s search engine. This gives any small business an advantage over businesses not using Google+.
What you should post: This platform is the most visual of all the social networks, so it’s important that businesses post photos and YouTube videos. Links to content should be enhanced with a photo.
Why it’s good for business: LinkedIn is an excellent platform to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. This is the space where business executives and other thought leaders are brought together to share ideas and engage in industry-related conversation.
What you should post: This platform is probably the best space to post thought leadership pieces and links to your blog. It’s also important to join groups related to your industry and consistently participate in discussions to position yourself as an expert in your field.
Also, remember that both your personal and business LinkedIn profiles will be viewed more than any other social media profile, so put your best foot forward. Customize your headline and job title and make sure your photo is current and professional.
Make Your Business Known on Your Own
Simply put, utilizing these social media platforms is no longer just a way to increase your presence or convert Millennials. Having a social media presence has become a necessity for any business; it’s a major way to establish your brand as a credible entity.
Ten years ago, making your business known came with a huge price tag, and it usually resulted in a painfully low-quality commercial on local cable. Now, with active social media accounts and quality content, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to level the playing field and compete with big businesses.
About the author
Mike Wolpert is the founder and CEO of Soci@l Jumpstart, a social marketing consultancy that advises brilliant entrepreneurs on creating a space for their brands to live and breathe on the Internet.