Small business owners have a wide range of tools they can use to market their operations, including promotional giveaways and other analog tools. However, it's also important to supplement traditional advertisements with digital options to ensure that consumers will develop brand recognition sooner rather than later.
One of the best tools for furthering promotional efforts is social media as it allows owners to reach out to leads and communicate with loyal customers. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and their social networking ilk are beneficial in that they help entrepreneurs create unique voices for their companies and disseminating new content directly to clients.
Of course, social media marketing is much more involved than simply creating a profile on Facebook and rolling out new posts on a regular basis. The advertising strategy actually requires a great deal of time and effort, meaning small business owners must understand best practices before getting started. To that end, here are the absolute basics that every entrepreneur should know before starting a social media marketing campaign.
The optimal network
New social networks are appearing at a rapid rate, but that doesn't meant that small business owners have to jump on every site's bandwagon. Some networks are more popular than others and some are better suited for businesses in specific industries than the alternatives.
You have to decide which social network would be best for your purposes and help you reach out to your customers. For instance, if you're in the business-to-business sphere, LinkedIn would probably be a more effective marketing tool than Facebook.
Carefully research customer preferences and networking habits. Ask clients which social networks they use frequently so you can create a presence on that platform, instead of wasting resources on sites that your patrons don't use. Consider sending out a survey to research different sites and their popularity among your clientele.
A social presence takes time to cultivate. Customers won't immediately flock to a business' Twitter page or Facebook profile – awareness has to be generated and a following has to grow naturally. However, some small business owners give up too easily on their social media marketing plans because they require so much time and effort.
The Social Media Examiner compares these entrepreneurs to people who quit on their New Year's resolutions before January even comes to a close. The similarities between the two are apparent in that both parties had these great long-term plans but were willing to concede defeat after a relatively short window.
Work toward engagement
It's not enough to simply have a social media presence as small business owners have to actively engage followers, according to Social Media Today. Entrepreneurs must post content that actually interests customers and isn't easily ignored. This will ensure that consumers will develop brand recognition every time they see a post and access their social networks.
Fortunately, social media offers plenty of opportunities for small business owners to post compelling content. Pictures, videos, graphics, text updates and other features can all be placed on a company's page to ensure that followers actually want to visit the profile instead of ignoring it outright.
One of the best ways to engage social media followers is to hold a contest. Small business owners can create an interesting game and encourage customers to participate by offering prizes. This will help ensure that consumers will follow a business online and actively seek out new social content.
Social media marketing is a great resource for small business owners who know how to capitalize on the digital tool to engage fans and create excitement for their brands.