Social Media For the Small Business Owner

Posted: October 31, 2012 in Growing your Business

Some small business owners are still playing catch up when it comes to promoting their business or products on social media forums. Once you have worked to make your product the highest caliber possible, it is time to facilitate customer interest through digital promotion. But how are you to go about doing this? What are the most important aspects of entering the world of social media? This article will help you answer some of those questions and help you increase your fan base.

Join the Conversation

The first step in using social media to promote your business is to join the conversation, getting your voice out there and becoming known. Many small shop owners may assume that their business does not require a digital presence, as this is only for bigger ventures with vocal fans or opponents. This is simply not true. Social media is not only useful to multinational corporations, but they are also beneficial to any business with a goal or a message to spread.

To start, you should do a search online to see what is already being said about your business. Don’t panic if you discover negative reviews, as the more you know, the better. This may be a painful task if you run across some negativity, but it is essential that you have a good grasp of your existing digital reputation. Keep your cool, and don’t go on the defensive.  Always respond to an adversary with strength and kindness. Take the criticism seriously, and consider changes that can improve your customer service.

Next, set up your social media pages: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. All of these pages offer customization. For instance, on Facebook, you can post polls and ask customers which products they enjoy the most. Use Twitter to post 140-character facts about the products you sell. Via LinkedIn, meet other business owners, and connect with vendors and other associates. All networks encourage you to upload or link to pictures of day-to-day life.

Post Often and in Your Own Voice

One way of branding yourself online is being consistent with your posts, and just as importantly, you should be consistent with how you portray your brand. Do you want to be a funny commentator, a sarcastic and witty critic or a kind and informative blogger? Creating a voice for your business makes you recognizable and personable. Potential customers will be put off by spammy or meaningless posts. While self-promotion is expected, it must be done in a meaningful manner with content that adds value to business.

Get Others in on the Action

Having an event or fundraiser is a great way to collect money for a good cause and promote awareness of products. One example of this method is the BlackBerry action campaign happening right now in India. With the catchphrase “Action Starts Here,” the BlackBerry action campaign encourages people to commit to certain goals via BlackBerry’s Facebook page. These goals vary from cleaning up your local community to finding a special way to tell someone you love them. This social media campaign draws people in with a giveaway and a few lucky achievers receive a BlackBerry Bold 3 mobile phone upon completion of their challenges.

Another way to bring people in is to make a “behind-the-scenes” video. For instance, if you own a bakery, show what life is like as a baker, from the 2 am wakeup call to start making dough, to the process of mixing the ingredients, to putting them in the oven, to opening the shop at 9 am and dealing with customers and so on. Have your staff use their mobile phones throughout the day to post updates. Always link these updates to your webpage to make it convenient for people to explore more about your business.

Connect in Real Life

Such fundraisers, personal challenges and behind-the-scenes videos are a great way to connect in real life with customers who interact online. The small business owner may be used to knowing customers by name and having faithful regulars. However, this personalized connection can falter in the pursuit of expanding one’s customer base. An effort must be made to maintain this personal connection .

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