By Dave Thomas, Published November 19, 2012
Whether you are a web start-up, small insurance business, the new home heating and cooling kid on the block or have been in business for years, what effort do you place on social media?
If the answer is little to none, there is a good chance you are missing out on a significant amount of clients who may not even know much about you. Simply put, being anti-social in today’s social networking world is akin to hanging out a sign that says open when we feel like it.
As you head into the New Year, do you plan to increase your social media efforts in promoting your small business, keep them about where they are now, or even tamp down on what you have been doing?
In the event you feel now is the time to put more effort into your company’s social media strategy, keep the following in mind:
* Have a mission – First and foremost, you need to have a mission in place with your social media ventures. It is easy to create pages for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. but do you know why you are doing that in the first place? If the reason stands that your competition does it and you need to do it, you are almost destined to fail from the start. Whether you are doing the social media in-house or outsourcing it, have a game plan in place that covers why you are doing social media, what your message is, and how you can best go about conveying that message;
* Blog it – Before you even create that Facebook or Twitter account, consider pinning that first image on Pinterest or turn to Google+ to tell the world about your products and services, do you have a company blog? If not, why did you not start one up to this point? If you do, have you been promoting it? The blog is a great tool to promote on a number of different social media venues, allowing you to be seen as an authoritative figure in your given industry. If you run a small tax business, use the blog to let readers know how they can save money before the end of the year in preparation for doing their taxes next year. If you are the owner of a small heating business, now is a great time of the year to prepare customers for saving on their winter heating bills. For those who are unveiling a web-based startup, use the blog to promote the company/site by touting what the company is about, who the intended audience is, and how people can best contact the business;
* Be consistent and yet not overbearing – There are countless small businesses that have tried social media and died a slow death along the way. The major reason for the lack of success is not knowing how to promote the site via social networks. Too many businesses, be it through their own hands or that of an outside firm, fail to consistently promote the company, its products and services, and its people on social media. Not only will consumers soon lose interest, but so too do the major search engines. The goal here should be a constant presence (that does not mean spamming) on social media, relevancy to your respective industry as to what you are sharing, tweeting and pinning about, and being seen as an authority. When you address and handle those goals, your company stands to benefit. Remember, do not over-post by any means, meaning don’t flood the social networks with post after post. If you do that, some consumers will specifically block your posts by using keywords to avoid seeing you post essentially the same stuff over and over again;
* Engage with consumers – Whether it is through your blog or the different social media channels you are on, be sure to engage with those who speak to you. If a consumer (current or potential customer) uses your Facebook fan page or Twitter feed to ask a question, express a concern, want more information etc. make sure you respond in an appropriate and timely manner. Not doing so makes you seem unattached to the consumer, something that can be very bad for business. Take the real-time opportunities that social media offers to connect with consumers. In doing so, make sure you are professional each and every time, even if a consumer is lashing out at you or your company;
* Link and link some more – Finally, the opportunity to link to relevant articles, podcasts, videos (You Tube for example) and more is always an option when using social media. You should also not hesitate linking back to older blog posts from your company, therefore keeping them relevant. You should also provide links to non-competing sites so that you can build up relationships with other bloggers, small businesses, social media sites etc. As you promote their products and services, they hopefully in turn do the same for you, giving you increased exposure.
With all that social media can offer your small business, is 2013 finally the year you become a more social player?
Photo credit: Businessinsider.com