Social Media for Small Business

The blossoming of social media venues across the web demands that all businesses, large or small, develop a new understanding of how to reach audiences where they congregate. In order to compete with their larger counterparts, small businesses especially must become experts in the marketing opportunities social media brings to the table. Whether you’re just starting out online or you’ve already established a presence on Facebook and other social media sites, you should consider some key strategies to build a social media marketing campaign that will grow your business.

Set Goals

Understand that social media marketing does not operate the same way as traditional marketing. Traditional goals such as exposure and increased sales may be a part of your social media strategy, but realize that they’re not enough to determine success. Your social media marketing goals should include things like joining conversations, creating a positive brand image, educating customers, and offering meaningful discussion. People flock to social media venues because they want to hear the opinions of real people and to discuss both positive and negative aspects of a particular product or service. As you develop goals for your company, remember that creating a positive impression in the minds of your audience by offering meaningful information that’s pertinent to a current discussion can do just as much for your business in the mind of the consumer as a flashy magazine ad—perhaps even more.

Listen to your audience

Discussions are taking place already, if not about your business in particular, at least about a similar product or service. Find the discussions that are currently taking place and see what concerns people, why they have reservations or fears about your company or similar companies, and what changes they would like to see taking place. By learning to understand your audience, you can earn their trust and create a two-way relationship that will encourage them to share their positive experiences with their friends.

Engage in conversation

Once you know what people are saying about your company, product, or service, you can enter conversations. Remember that your goal here is not to offer a sales pitch, but rather to build a relationship based on trust. Earn the respect of your target audience, and they will reward you with brand loyalty and increased sales. Facebook and Twitter are the staples of any social media marketing campaign, but once you’ve established your presence in these two places, consider creating a blog or forum on your website. You should also consider assigning a member of your staff to engage in conversations already taking place around the web. Comments posted in these places should offer knowledgeable insight into the discussion at hand, while opening the opportunity for someone else to bring up your company. If you can genuinely offer your product or service as a solution to the problem under discussion, do so, but not as a sales pitch with talking points. Taking the time to prepare your social media marketing strategy by setting goals, listening to your audience and engaging in conversation will bring about greater overall success than simply creating pages at every social media venue possible. When all of your social media outlets revolve around your core strategy, you’ll be better able to measure success in concrete terms and to build the basis for a long term social media strategy that doesn’t end in burnout.