Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — you hear the names every day, but are you using them for your small business? Whether you run a small Etsy shop, a home-based bakery or a local store with 50 employees, you can leverage the power of social media to boost sales and secure lifelong customers.
Finding Your People
You know people. And they know people. And those people know more people. That’s the basic idea of social media. You put your business out there and — assuming your business is on the up and up — you’re going to get shares and likes and retweets. Being active on social media sites gives you access to web-savvy consumers — and these days that’s a big chunk of people — who may not otherwise even know you exist.
If you think it’s only young people using social media, think again. Scroll through your personal Facebook page and you’re likely to find an increasing number of older folks posting updates and sharing links.
Social media is an all-hours virtual hangout. Your customers might not sit around your store chatting about life, but social media sites encourage that sort of “getting personal” activity. You get to know your customer base better. You find out what they like and don’t like about your services.
And you can give them a little more of you. Consumers like to know the person behind the business. Showing your personal side just may encourage your customers to stick around and give you their business instead of the big box store down the street. Just don’t get too personal — that photo of you in a Speedo will come back to haunt you if you post it on social media sites.
Controlling Your Image
Businesses have an online presence even if they don’t actively create one. People will talk about you online, so why not be the one leading the conversation? By using social media, you give potential customers a place to go to learn the facts about your business. You can immediately address any negative press or complaint from customers (or disgruntled employees).
And before you say your company website is enough, consider this. Your social media accounts become a free way to drive traffic to your site. Someone who’s never heard of your company sees that a friend started following you on Facebook. That person goes to your page and sees the link to your website. Branching out to several online sites extends your reach and makes you easier to find.
Slow and steady is fine if you’re a tortoise, but the business world moves quickly. Social media gets your message out there instantly. Did you bake too many maple bacon cupcakes for your bakery? Tweet about an awesome discount on the flavor for the day. Are you having a special event at your business? Let your followers know quickly through social media.
The world of social media isn’t as scary as it may seem. Don’t be afraid to use trial and error to find a social marketing strategy that works for your company. From a one-person show to a full-scale operation, businesses of all sizes benefit from social media.