Jump on the social media bandwagon!
For business, the rising popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks presents a great opportunity for reaching out to their consumers.
As millions of people (e.g. Facebook reports more than 400 million active users as of March 2010), flock to social media networks to chat, flirt, swap photos, and talk with each other, companies have the chance to tune into these conversations.
Companies can pitch a product, gather consumer feedback, or test new ideas.
However, a lot of hard working small companies don’t know how to get started. Here are 5 key points about using social media that every small business owner should know.
1. Social media creates conversations.
2 basic tenets of business social media use are be more down-to-earth, and be more transparent. A social media campaign must be simple and aim to make the business more receptive to the feedback of its customers. For example, if you set up a Facebook Page, be prepared for customers to be nosy and speak their mind. Business owners may not hear what they want to hear, but one of the main points of social media is to listen to your customers.
2. You can cut costs with social media.
Example: a coupon through Twitter. Why spend hundreds of dollars on designing, printing and distributing coupons, when you could actually distribute the “coupon” as a secret word for your Twitter followers to use at your store? Not only will you save money by avoiding design and printing costs (not to mention, trees!)
3. Know what you want to get out of social media before going into it.
This point needs to be printed out, framed and be the first thing that your marketer sees when he or she arrives to the office.
- If you’re a frozen yogurt shop, are you in the business of selling frozen yogurt or are you in the business of making people open e-mails?
- If you’re a humane society that protects animal rights, are you working hard towards increasing the number of people adopting stray dogs or are you working hard that people click on a YouTube video of a sad dog looking for a home?
Clearly define goals in one-sentence liners. Establish one clear measure to track performance. Stick to that measure. Track performance with that measure. Once the social media campaign ends, evaluate it using that measure and your one-sentence goal.
It is harder than it sounds.
4. Communication builds trust, and trust can lead to sales.
This key point ties with the first key point. We do business with people that we know and that we trust. Ever got one of those spam e-mails from a Nigerian businessman trying to get you to cash one of his checks? You would never do that. But what about if your mom calls you up and asks you to cash a check? You will go ahead and cash it, because you 1) know her and 2) trust her.
The same things goes with businesses. If you interact with your customers through social media on a regular basis, they will get to know you better and trust you more. If they trust you, they will give up $0.99 for your mp3 that you’re selling on iTunes.
5. Lead by example.
Using your own products and following your own advice not only demonstrates their effectiveness, but also builds authenticity.
The best marketing strategy ever is to show your (existing and prospective) customers how valuable your products or services are by actually using them and implementing them in your own business. No amount of creativity or copywriting can ever replace the value from showing your customers how you use your own stuff to great effect.