Social media has been the talk of the town for years now, and recently, that talk has centered on the short and sweet forms of digital marketing. Forget friending – the real intriguing aspects for small businesses involve followers and flocks.
Organizations that learn how to use the likes of photo-sharing site Instagram and blurb-ridden Twitter could have a fun and easy way to promote products, advertise events and announce promotional giveaways. To promote the right way, however, small businesses should familiarize themselves with the programs and the way they can help them, and the pitfalls that could hurt.
Know your media
For those uninitiated, Twitter is a popular blogging site where posts are limited to 140 characters or less. Instagram, meanwhile allows instant photo-sharing, letting users snap photos with their phones and upload on the go. With both forms of social media, users can attract followers, who then have the option of reposting comments – known as retweeting – or "liking" images. The simple interface of these social media sites make for an alluring means of promotion, as businesses stage artistic photographs of their products or announce upcoming events or releases.
Business Insider has regularly posted about particularly successful Instagram accounts, usually ones that are sometimes beautiful, sometimes funny, but always clever in their means of the photo sharing website, ranging from Oreo to Starbucks. Twitter, meanwhile, is a blogosphere so seamlessly intertwined with advertising and promotion that the website itself offers tips to small businesses on best tweeting practices.
While Instagram is relatively easy to use – just point, shoot, edit and post – using it for advertising purposes can be a little trickier. Small Business Trends has provided users with a comprehensive guide to getting started with Instagram, but the main points generally adhere to any form of marketing. First and foremost, businesses should give plenty of thought about their brand – basically, their company's voice and style – and how Instagram can be used effectively as an extension of that brand.
If a business has a more playful brand, such as Oreo or Taco Bell, then Instagram posts should reflect that sense of humor. More serious companies that want to convey a straightforward tone should opt for photographs that speak to that brand. For example, a travel company that specializes in the wonders of adventure may want to post grand, panoramic photos. One that aims more at family travel will want pictures of parents and children laughing and enjoying themselves. Brands should stick to a theme, so that the culmination of an Instagram profile is coherent. The more creative, the better.
Instagram can also be used as a springboard for customer-submitted advertising. Businesses may announce that the first 10 Instagrammers to photograph themselves with their product in an interesting place receive promotional items. Small Business Trends, however, warns users not to use Instagram solely for advertising, as companies want to provide images that people will share with their friends.
The Twitterverse is always abuzz with promotional tactics, and Twitter has encouraged businesses to use the microblogging site to launch products, announce their presence at trade shows and interact with customers. Much like Instagram, organizations will want to give each tweet serious thought as to how it contributes to the company's brand. Twitter also noted that the platform may be used to incentivize followers into sharing a company's tweet. If, for example, followers repost a piece of content enough times, companies can give them access to exclusive content or send promo items.
The importance of regular use
In this age of the hyper-expanding digital universe, companies have the best chance of making an impact if they use these social media sites regularly. That way, not only will they be getting their names out to the public more often, users will come to expect regularly posted content and potentially check in more often. As Inc. Magazine wrote, don't be shy.