Social media is time consuming – both to learn and to maintain. Every social network has its own rules, algorithms, quirks, as well as “best practices,” and as a small business, you have a lot to accomplish with limited resources and time. But social media is an important part of today’s marketing, and ignoring it or doing it poorly, can hurt your business.
Social media is among the least costly ways to drive traffic to your site, engage with potential customers and encourage existing customers to return. Yet so many small businesses think that having a website is enough. Or some have even gone so far as to create a Facebook page or an Instagram account, but then they rarely post. It’s no surprise, except to the business, that no one is visiting and nothing is happening.
With the advances being made in mobile, if you are not able to be found online—you are MISSING OUT on sales. It’s a rare company that doesn’t want more sales. If you are lucky enough to be in that position where you just don’t need to drive new traffic and have no plans for expansion, you are still missing opportunities to reward loyal customers and be an active participant in your local community.
Here are four ways you can easily tap into social tools to help grow business:
- List it. Make sure that your place of business is listed in all the online directories. Grab “ownership” of those where that’s allowed and ensure the information is up to date.
- Get social! Participate online by providing authentic and interesting (and keep it relevant!) content that reflects your business philosophies and products or services. Everyone can handle 3-5 posts per week about your business, community, employees, and industry.
- Ask your current customers to leave reviews. Google+ (which feed into Google search results), Yelp, and other places that pop up when a local is searching and needs to find YOU.
- Engage! You cannot expect everyone else to do all the work. Social media is about being social. Support the other businesses in your community – leave comments on their Facebook page, share their posts, give them a shout-out on Twitter, write up good reviews for them on Yelp.
By definition, social networks grow through interaction. Your social network will expand the more you engage. Being genuine and a positive member of your local community will do far more than wasting time where there are no potential customers. Stay away from controversial topics and keep it professional, while still being personable (without being too personal).
Social doesn’t need to feel burdensome. Put together a simple editorial calendar of local events, holidays, and your marketing calendar (coupons, sales, etc.) to promote your products and things going on in your community or area of expertise. Things of interest that your customers would find useful position you as a contributor to the aggregate knowledge of your niche and help people find you.
Don’t overlook social. Mobile gives people directories at their fingertips when they are near your office or looking for a product or service to buy. Don’t miss those sales!
One final note: Don’t forget to also check your website! Is it clear what you’re selling? Is your location and contact information easy for them to find? Does your site talk about your services and what you’re knowledgeable about? Do you use the key phrases that someone searching for your goods and services would use? Is your site friendly to use and quick to load? Can they easily buy/order from your site?
Kristen Kuhns is the founder of GetSocialBiz.com, a social media consultancy specifically focused on helping small businesses. Kuhns has an extensive background in technology, marketing and social media, and has founded several technology companies near Silicon Valley. She is the founder of two non-profits and her background includes 15 years as a Chief Operating Officer of a successful consulting firm. Currently, she devotes her time to helping small business owners drive traffic and extend brand awareness by leveraging social media. Kuhns is based outside of Sacramento, California but serves clients globally.