I know that a lot of small businesses are interested in social media marketing to grow their business. I speak with thousands of small business owners a year (probably just like you) who hear about social media but don’t know exactly how they can get value from social media.
I have worked with many of these business owners to help them find success in social media, and I know that small businesses can get results using social media marketing. I know first hand that social media can provide a better ROI than traditional marketing methods. Social Media marketing can deliver results when used strategically and with the right plan.
Here are 10 of the most common ways that small businesses can use social media to grow their business. In no particular order, here are 10 ways that small businesses can use social media:
1) Share Deals and Promotions on Twitter
Twitter is a powerful way to share deals and promotions with your customers (and future customers)! Big companies like Dell Outlet have sold millions of dollars through twitter, but it works for small companies too. Naked Pizza, a small pizza store in New Orleans had their highest ever sales day from a twitter promotion. Vista Prints sold $25,000 directly through twitter in their first year. Find and connect with your target audience and give them irresistable offers on Twitter.
2) Share news and Updates on Facebook
Don’t have a fan page yet? If you have fans or customers who are passionate about your business you should have a fan page. Use it to connect with customers and keep them up to date on your new products or services. I was recently getting my car fixed and found that the mechanic frequents the same neighborhood bar as I do. He told me that he checks out their Facebook page every day to see what food and drink specials they have. This bar has a creative new drink special for Happy Hour every day and a different free food item available.
Whether is it food and drink specials, new items in your store, new industry news or regulations a facebook fan page can be a powerful resource to keep your customers up to date. Over 1/3 of people who are fans of companies on Facebook are fans for this reason – to stay up to date.
3) Network on LinkedIn Groups
Lots of small businesses and professionals grow their businesses by networking with people. Meeting people and sharing helpful knowledge drives business over time. People do business with people they know, like and trust.
LinkedIn groups allow you connect with others based on a shared interest. You can join a group and contribute to discussions or share interesting news. By using LinkedIn to build relationships you can earn new customers over time.
4) Connect with Prospects with a Webinar
Webinars are becoming increasingly popular ways to connect with prospects adn provide value to customers. Webinars are virtual and web-based. A webinar is typically hosted around a specific topic and people sign up, call in and log-in on their computer and they can watch and listen to a live session on a specific topic.
Webinars are very popular in categories that are high-information. Most B-to-B business fall in to this categoy, but it also works for consumer products. If people are looking for knowledge or information on your subject area, a webinar can be a powerful tool to share information with them and position yourself as a leader.
5) Be a Thought Leader with a Blog
Blogs are very popular for a variety of reasons (we’ll discuss one more of them later in this post). One of the reasons is that a blog can establish you as an expert and thought leader in your industry. If people trust you and see you as knowledgeable they are more likely to do business with you.
Run a gym? Share workout tips. Real Estate Agent? Share posts highlighting the people and events in your neighborhood. Restaurant? Show how you make signature drinks or menu items.
6) Connect with Customers and Prospects with an email newsletter
So maybe *technically* this isn’t social media, but it is relatively simple and cheap for most businesses to create a newsletter. Constant Contact and MailChimp offer services for under $25 a month and are easy to use.
An email newsletter can keep your customers and prospects up to speed on news, deals and promotions. Email remains the preferred communication method of most people (1:10 preference over social media) to stay up to date.
7) Join an online community
There are online communities for almost everything these days. Seek out a discussion forum or community that is specific to your business and participate!
You can connect with customers (or potential customers) and really learn about them. What are they interested in? What do they talk about? What do they want and need in products? Participating and listening to communinities that are comprised of your business target can improve your product but also lead to sales as you build relationships.
8) Monitor and Respond to your Reviews
There are many business review sites – from product reviews on amazon to restaurant and store reviews on yelp to complaints on The Ripoff Report. Whatever your business line, chances are there are review sites that are relevant. Even Facebook has included reviews on fan pages. Google has reviews in their listings.
Look for and respond to reviews (both good and bad). Saying thanks to a good review can build an evangelist and encourage word-of-mouth. Responding to a negative review can help clarify the situation. Showing that you care about negative reviews and plan to take action shows your side of the situation to the hundreds of people who view the review.
9) Get Found on Search Engines with a Blog
Another great reason to start a blog is to get traffic from search engines. Because blogs are content rich (you typically create content for them on a regular basis) search engines give traffic to sites with blogs.
In almost anything that you search for you’ll find a number of blogs show up in search results. If people find you business through search a blog can increase the probability that you will show up in results. This leads to traffic and (hopefully) sales.
10) Generate Awareness with a Video
Videos can be great ways to connect with your audience. A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a million! Video is a great way to share information – whether it is a video showing how you make a dish, customers talking about their satisfaction or a video demo of your product – videos are powerful tools.
Create a video for your business to make a deeper connection with your audience. Whatever your business there are many different creative ways to use and share videos.
This list isn’t exhaustive – it is simply a handful of the tactics and tools that are included in the Social Media Action Pack.