Social platforms such as Facebook®, Twitter®, Google+™, LinkedIn®, Pinterest® and Instagram® are cost-effective avenues for connecting with your target customer base, raising awareness about your brand and building credibility within your industry. Through the strategic use of social media, you can:
1. Showcase Your Business’s Human Side. It’s easy for consumers to think of any business, no matter the size, as “they” or “them” or “that company”—the implication being that they’re dealing with a non-thinking, non-feeling entity with one goal: taking their money. Social media allows you to put names and faces to the people and personalities behind the products and/or services your business provides. Responding to questions, comments, praise and complaints in real-time allows current and potential customers a peek behind the curtain, to see the real people that make it all work.
2. Build Industry Cred. When not directly interacting with current and prospective customers, your social sites provide you and your staff a forum to display the breadth of knowledge and depth of passion you have for your business. It’s an opportunity to take off your salesperson hat and allow your expertise to speak for itself. Examples might include posting links to blog posts, videos, or articles that speak directly to your offerings. You could post links to sites that provide background information or history of your field. Maybe it’s something as simple as posting quotes that you’ve built your business on. Anything that informs your audience, either about you or what you provide, will work.
3. Generate Buzz. Sales, promotions, fresh products, new locations, trade show appearances—you can publish any information you need to get out to your customers on your social networks for free. Encourage them to do so, and your followers can do a week’s worth of networking in a matter of minutes by liking, linking, sharing, and tweeting. And don’t forget you can post videos, or links to videos, in most social feeds. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of sites like YouTube® or Vimeo to post videos showing off products or services, build anticipation for new store openings, or simply show what a great time you had (or are having) at a particular event.
4. Drive Sales. Obviously, posting sales/deals as well as new products/services to your social feeds can drive traffic to your site and generate leads and sales. However, consider this: during slow days (or even weeks), post special limited time discounts exclusively for those in your social networks. This will get you sales that would not have happened otherwise and bring value to being in your social circles beyond merely being in the know.
Along these same lines, you might also try creating different discount codes for each network. This will allow you to get an idea of which sites your customers are most active on.
5. Get Found on Search Engines. There is a lot of debate as to whether search engines count links, likes, tweets, or +1’s from social sites when ranking websites. Still, it is widely accepted that Google® takes all Google+ information into account when doing searches (provided you’re logged in to your G+ account at the time). For more information, read up on how Google uses its G+ Profiles and Pages in search results.
That said, there’s no arguing that having an active social presence will get you found in Web searches. Honestly, does it matter if it’s your Google+ page that pulls up at the top of a search as opposed to you website? Get people talking about you in the social sphere, and it will drive traffic back to your site—and ultimately net you more sales.
About the Author: A small business consultant, Donny Stearman also is a freelance writer with a mind for technology and a heart for music, movies and novels. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.
In most cases, small businesses can’t afford to pay for big traditional marketing campaigns including splashy TV commercials, print ads, radio spots, mailers, and billboards. These marketing methods might bring value, but at a hefty price. Fortunately, with nearly three-quarters of all Americans who are online using social networking sites, there’s never been a better time to leverage social media as a marketing channel to help grow your business.