To promote your small business, you need a smart business strategy. To market to the widest range of age and demographic, you should invest time into social media. Over 1 billion people use online social media in one way or another, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. This includes Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and LinkedIn to name a few. To keep your business relevant and lucrative, social media is a must for your business plan.
The average person spends two seconds on a page so you have to keep their interest peaked. Online social media is a great way to offer incentives, discounts and giveaways. People are more receptive to giveaways and free coupons online and are more likely to not only use those gifts and coupons, but spend more money. Social media allows your business to have a better cash management; instead of spending countless dollars on fliers, mailer ads and customer surveys, you can spend that money on your business and use the response from social media as your guide.
“The holy grail of marketing has always been to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time,” Clara Shih, CEO and Co-Founder of Hearsay Social told Bloomberg in an interview about the benefits of social media and marketing. “The best way to advertise is to appear that you’re not advertising at all” Shih said.
According to Digital Buzz, there will be an estimated 21 million Twitter users in the U.S. by the end of 2012 and a sizable minority of those users will use Twitter at least in part to follow brands. An alarming 55 percent of users access Twitter from their smartphones. Most interestingly, 21 percent of what people re-tweet (a re-posting of someone else’s Tweet) are celebrity statuses.
Twitter helps capture the real-time emotions of your business and provides consumers with the most up-to-date information about your business.
Facebook is the foundation and starting place for any social networking campaign. There are over 800 million active Facebook users to date, and more than 200 million users were added in 2011, according to Mediabistro. And 56 percent of consumers were more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after becoming a fan on Facebook.
So what does all this mean for your business and how can you get in the game?
The average consumer wants information immediately, so if you’re not updating your page frequently, there’s a chance those consumers won’t visit your page in the future.
One of the more business savvy online social media outlets is LinkedIn. You can keep track of your connections, competitors and connections with the most up-to-date information of their business life.
A newbie to the social media world is Instagram. Celebrities, businesses and individuals post pictures of their lives: From food and clothing to fitness and merchandise. Like Twitter, you can use hashtags with your photos to make your photos more searchable, likeable and shareable. Talk show host personality Ellen DeGeneres uses Instagram for fan contests and freebies.
Instagram is a great tool to use if you want to showcase new products in real time. Based on the number of comments and likes on the photograph you can gauge if the particular item will be a fast seller in your store.
Statigram is a tool you can use in conjunction with Instagram. Statigram allows you to check on the popularity of your photos, hashtag usage and growth chart. Here are some key features this program uses, to keep your Instagram as user friendly and popular as possible:
- Your most liked photos ever
- A hashtag cloud of all your used hashtags
- Filter usage
- A follower growth chart; both monthly and overall
- Daily follower gain and loss chart
- Ratio of followers and followings in your community
- Your followers who are the most engaged in your page
Your business should have a blog page. Why? Because it is a link magnet. In a world filled with Google and demand-seeking consumers, inbound links in blog posts are the most important factor in determining how much authority a business has on the Internet. Inbound links allow your business to get likes, views and shares. It’s a virtual popularity contest and the more votes you have for your blog post the more authority you have.
Blogs are a great tool for building up your reputation. When keeping up with a blog, update it at least once a day so your consumers can see you keep track and are up-to-date with your business, making your business look more appealing.
When connecting with consumers and clients, answer their questions in real-time: The quicker the better. Consumers want to get information as quickly as they can and if you don’t answer their questions as immediately as you can, they might go elsewhere for a similar product.