Social Media for Small Business – How to Get Started

When it comes to owning a small business and having less than 20 employees, we often put marketing on the back burner. When it comes to Social Media Marketing we definitely do not have the time. But, should we make the time? Businesses have found (both small and large) that social media marketing is something that everyone should be paying attention to. This gives you a direct line to your clients and customers. More then 50% of the population will have a profile on a social network. More and more of our customers and clients are coming to us through digital means. Posting on a regular basis to social media sites and updating your blog holds great value to business and even greater value to small business. Informing clients and customers about sales, specials, and other promotions helps to promote customer loyalty. It also gives a cool new way for the best marketing tool there is to bolster your business (Word of Mouth Marketing). Customers can easily share your information with friends and followers giving you a direct line to new prospects.

So, how much time is enough? Well that really depends on you. Many experts say that you should devote five to ten hours a week to social media marketing. I say, if you need to, start off slow. Devote at least two hours a week to posting on social media sites and/or updating your blog. You can post information that you have found on other websites that you think will be helpful to your customers on Facebook or Twitter even if you don’t have an article or something else to post yourself. Once you start, you will get the hang of it. You do not have to have complete articles for each post. You can even post a favorite quote or an answer to a question that you recently received from a customer. This creates a dialogue between you and your customers. This also shows how involved you are with your customers and that you are dedicated to making sure that they receive the level of service they deserve.

Social media will not be immediately beneficial for everyone. It takes time and dedication to see a result from using social media as a marketing tool for most. It really depends on the services or products that your company offers. Do not use social media to Sell Sell Sell! It should be used to inform and keep in contact with your customers and prospects. You will find that an open dialogue will go a long way with future sales and customer loyalty.

Is Using Social Media Really That Important?

For years running a business was relatively simple – you had a store or office, went to work each day, kept everything running, printed flyers or brochures to promote your business and used your profits to pay your employees and expenses.

“To do business in the 90’s you needed a Fax machine and a newspaper ad, to do business in the 2000’s you needed a website and a mobile phone. To do business in this decade you need a Blog and Social Media.” Matt Adams, Social Media Expert.

With the advent of computers and the internet things have changed dramatically and if you want to build a presence online then social media really is that important.

Today’s Businesses
These days it’s very easy to start a business. In some cases (depending on the type of business it is), you can be up and running on the net in a couple of hours and many of today’s businesses are run solely online. For many small business owners, an online business is a fantastic way to build their business, while keeping overheads low. E-stores for example, allow people to store all their stock at home and employ maybe one or two people to arrange packaging and postage – far cheaper than renting a warehouse and an office for admin staff.

In today’s tech-savvy world it pays to use as many outlets as you can to build an online presence. Whether you want to believe it or not, the majority of your customers, clients and competitors are online and unless you’re there too, you’re losing money.

Why You Need Social Media
Social media networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube give you the opportunity to reach a greater audience and to connect with your customers and clients in ways that simply weren’t possible ten years ago.

We all know that creating and maintain relationships with customers is the key to a successful business but prior to now we had only distant tools to maintain and build these relationships. In the past we’ve had the phone, recently email and text messaging but these are one-to-one communication mediums. With Social Media we can still have this one-to-one conversations but now we INVOLVE others in the same conversation. This is very powerful from a marketing perspective.

We know that we are more likely to purchase something if it’s recommended by a friend rather than if we simply saw an ad on TV or in the newspaper. Now, you have recommendations in so many different ways.
By combining your website with a Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube Channel, Blog and information-rich articles, you can not only increase the number of people who know about your business but provide them with information, discounts and promotions that you can’t do with print media. And with Social Media the cost is simply your time, unless you’d like to run Pay Per Click marketing campaigns (which you should).

You can connect with customers and clients all over the world from promoting your business and selling products to finding new clients, new media can put the world in your hands with the click of a button. And sites such as Facebook allow your customers and clients an opportunity to communicate with you, no matter where you are.

The Time Is Now
If you’ve been putting off using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or a Blog, you are reducing the opportunities you have to reach your customers and clients. There are still many businesses without websites, which not only makes it difficult for people to find them but drives people to their competitors. By creating an online presence you will increase your availability to your customers and be a greater competitor to your competition.

Don’t let your competition take away your business. Use social media to its fullest to create an impact online and increase your presence to customers old and new. If you want your business to survive in today’s technological world you need to be where your customers are – online and on social media networking sites. Increase your presence and your business, and start your social media marketing campaign today.

Facebook for Your Business: Why You Should Create a Facebook Page

Should you start using Facebook for your business promotion needs? The answer is pretty much a no-brainer, especially if your business is largely based online. And if you don’t have a website but feel the need to create an online presence for your company, a Facebook page is the perfect alternative.

Let’s talk a little bit about the benefits your company or website will enjoy when you use Facebook for your business. First of all, since Facebook is free to use, you don’t have to invest in a domain name and web hosting if you don’t want to. Some companies use their Facebook page solely for the purpose of acting as their official website. Some even employ Facebook add-ons to add full-page graphics to their Facebook walls. These are often click-able, and can direct viewers to a special promotion on your website or to a product you are selling.

Next, Facebook offers probably the best way to find out who likes your company. With just a simple click of the “Like” button, your fans can subscribe to all of your updates, post comments on your statuses, write on your Facebook wall and more. The more interaction you allow on your page (which can be edited in the page settings area), the more you’ll encourage your followers to pay attention to what you say when you post an update.

You can use your platform on Facebook to notify fans of changes to your website, sales and promotions, special offers and more. If you really want to start getting personal, upload pictures of employees hanging out in the office, making new products, designing site layouts or whatever else comes to mind. Since Facebook is all about socializing, the more you get personal, the better you’ll connect with your fans.

Just like email newsletters or Tweets, you need to post updates and reach out to your followers on a regular basis. With social media, this should be perhaps more frequent than you send out your email newsletters. Even if you don’t have much to say, simply showing your fans you care is a good way to keep followers from hitting the “unlike” button. You might think about posting a status daily, or at least a few times a week. Keep your company’s updates flowing through their feeds, but don’t pepper them with too much needless information or spammy posts.

Try to fill up your page with visually interesting media as much as possible. Photos, logos, Facebook wallpapers, and other colorful, eye-catching media are a great start. You might even try to post videos from time to time, even if they only detail seemingly monotonous aspects of your business. You never know what might catch a client’s interest!

You really don’t have anything to lose by using Facebook for your business. Just be sure to promote your page on your website, business cards, ads, commercials and any other medium you use to draw clients to your website or company. The more “likes” you get, the more followers you’ll receive, and that translates to more sales.

Social Media Marketing Tips That Will Brand You As A Leader

Everyone seems to want to know about social media marketing tips. Social media marketing can prove to be very lucrative and beneficial to your website or business. Media sites are not just for teenagers anymore but have allowed businesses to reach out on a more personal level with their customers.

Social networking can help to improve brand loyalty, boosts sales, and even help with lead generation. There are many different ways to get started in social media marketing. Having a company blog is one of the easiest ways to let people know all about what it is that you have to bring to the table. When you start blogging you should do your very best to create the most incredible content known to man.

Generating good content is not enough. When creating content keep it fresh and up to date. These tips will help you generate traffic by keeping folks coming back for more time and time again. Other social media marketing tips on blogging include adding Tweet This and Like This buttons at the bottom of your articles or entries. This can easily be done with Word Press. You should also be sure to include links in your blogs. Spread the love around people.

Another marketing tip is to make it very simple for interested parties to subscribe to your blog via email. Also, be sure to comment on other people’s blogs that are in your niche. By commenting on other blogs, you are sure to get noticed. Other social media marketing tips include posting your blogs on Face Book as soon as you possibly can. If someone leaves a comment on your Face Book page, respond.

Let people know that you are a company that cares.

One of the most important things that you can do with l media sites is to engage in as much activity as you possibly have time for. Devote yourself as much as you can to each activity or project that you begin. The most important part of getting marketing tips to work is to use them to your advantage as best as you can.

When you are trying to get followers on networking sites remember that sometimes quantity is more important than quality. When using Twitter to market your goods or services, be sure to Tweet as often as you can with updates. Submit videos to You Tube that are chocked full of information as well as entertainment.

These few social marketing tips can be just the thing that you need to get your business or website where you want them to be. Using social media marketing is like playing a giant game of “telephone” all across the globe. You promote your product to as many as possible. They love your product so much that they go out and tell a friend. This is the business premise of Face Book and other social media networking sites. Putting these social media marketing tips to good use could prove to be the best decision for your business.

How to Embed YouTube Videos on Your Wall on Facebook

One of the most popular items you’ll see posted onto a Facebook wall are videos. Videos have a profound appeal because they entertain us, they inform us, and they are easy to digest – much like Facebook. In a fast-paced world where we want our information quick, informative and adaptable, videos are often the answer. This is just as true for social media platforms as it is anywhere else.

So let’s say you’ve discovered a great YouTube video that you want to share. Perhaps it’s not already going viral (spreading wildly), or maybe you’ve created the video yourself. YouTube makes sharing the video easy and quick if you follow these steps.

1. Open YouTube in your web browser, and locate the video that you want to share.

2. Click on the image or title link for that video, and when it starts to play, pause the video.

3. Under the pause button you’ll see a horizontal row of buttons – “Like,” “Dislike,” “Add to,” and “Share.”

4. Click the “Share” button. When you do, a drop-down box will open.

5. You’ll see a hyperlink that allows you to “Link to this Video” and you’ll see a Facebook icon. (You’ll also see Twitter, Google+, and a “More” option if you want to share the video on other sites, too.)

6. The easiest option is to select the Facebook icon, click on it, and when you do, a window will open on your monitor with a preview of the video, and a box for you to say something about the video before you post it. If you have linked your YouTube account to your Facebook account, you will be all set to post to your own wall without ever leaving the YouTube site. All you have to do is decide what you want to say before you post it, and click “Share Link.”

Note: If you’re not logged in already, you may be asked to log in to Facebook on that window, but the log in is secure and easy. Once you’ve logged in, you’re ready to share.

7. You can also copy the hyperlink and manually go to your Facebook wall. Once there, select “Update Status,” and paste the link into your Status feed, then “Post.” However, this will only paste the link onto your wall, and not the video image preview. Most people prefer to see the image, so they know what they’re getting into before they click on your link, so this is a “2nd choice” option.

While this sounds more detailed than you might think, it’s actually very simple to do and a whole new world can open up to you with your new social media sharing skills!

5 Social Media Don’t’s You Should Avoid

Social media marketing can be an excellent way to connect with your current and potential customers. When used correctly, it can increase brand awareness, create brand loyalty and help get you get the attention of new potential customers. However, when used the wrong way, it can end up annoying customers and driving them away. Here’s how to avoid the 5 social media marketing “don’ts” so this doesn’t happen to you.

1. Don’t post the exact same message to all of your social media outlets. Some brands post the exact same information on their Facebook pages as they do on their Twitter accounts. If you do this, it means that customers who are following you on both networks are getting duplicate information. This shows your customers that you don’t really care about putting an effort into engaging your social media followers. This will defeat the purpose of even posting on those networks at all and you will be in danger of losing your following.

2. Don’t ignore the negative feedback you receive. It’s inevitable that once in a while you’ll get a bad comment on Facebook or someone on Twitter tweeting something rude. It’s no secret that disgruntled customers often turn to social media to express their anger. However, to just delete these comments and act like they never happened is the wrong approach. It’s important to follow up with the customer to resolve the issue. No one wants bad word-of-mouth advertising. Social media gives you a chance to see what people are saying about you and change their opinion of you. If a customer is upset because they came to your restaurant and received what they thought was “bad service,” then invite them to come back free of charge. Whether you decide to publicly address the issue (so others can see how you handle it) or call the individual privately to resolve the conflict is your choice.

3. Don’t use your social media network only as a sales tool. One of the biggest social media marketing no-no’s is using your networks only to send a bunch of sales messages daily. Social media networks are a place to connect with and engage your customers, not bore them with generic sales messages. It’s okay to announce a promotion or even a service you provide once in a while, but make sure your more “sales-y” messages are scarce when compared to your interesting and engaging content that customers will enjoy.

4. Don’t constantly beg your existing fans to help you get more. Social media marketing isn’t about who has the most followers, it’s about who has the most engaged followers. If all you do is constantly ask your existing fans to help you get more, without providing any incentive or reward, they’ll get bored and unfollow you. They’ll also wonder why the great participation they’re giving you isn’t enough. Don’t make your fans feel underappreciated; that’s a big social media marketing faux pas.

5. Don’t offer a promotion for “new customers only.” We’ve all seen this marketing no-no. Although it’s great that you’re using social media to announce a promotion, it’s bad that you’re discluding some of your followers. Many brands offer a promotion only to new customers hoping to rope in some new clients. However, what about your existing clients? What do they get for being loyal to your brand? If they’re following you on Facebook or Twitter, they’re already a step ahead of your other customers. This means you should be giving them extra perks, not making them feel left out of a special discount. Remember to offer specials and inside information to your social network followers as a whole, because they are already a segmented group of your entire customer base.

Do’s and Don’ts When Using Twitter for Business

Twitter is very large and growing every day. At last report there were over 1.6B search queries a day and over 460K new accounts added each day. In addition, Twitter users are younger, better educated and have higher incomes than the general population. What does this mean? Twitter for business is real and you better not ignore Twitter. With that in mind, it’s important to know how to use Twitter properly to attract and keep your fans.

Do’s:

Write original content to add value and attract followers. This is probably the most important thing to remember. People want to hear your original ideas and comments.Create an optimized bio/profile with keywords and link to where people can find out more info about you such as your “About Us” page on your website. Your bio is only 160 characters long, so be professional, but you will need to convey the information concisely. It’s fine to include something personal which may serve as an icebreaker for someone who wants to meet you.Respond and participate consistently – companies that tweet 1-4 times per hour receive a better click through rate. Tweets can be scheduled using a number of tools such as TweetDeck.If a customer posts a negative comment about your business, respond quickly. It may happen, but if you respond appropriately and right any wrong situation it can turn a negative into a real positive by showing that your company takes its customers seriously and responds swiftly.Retweet your customers to build your relationship and trust with those customers. When you Retweet, it’s like a complement – you are saying that you think what that person said was interesting enough that you want to also share it with your followers. Consider adding original content to the tweet as well.Find interesting people to follow, observe their conversations, and then join in. Remember to get a feel for the flow of a conversation before jumping in.Monitor keywords, phrases, and hashtags (words proceeded by a “#”) to find conversations you can join. Again you can use tools to do this. I use TweetDeck, but there are a lot of tools out there that can help you monitor what’s going on. One of the benefits of many of these tools is that you can monitor Twitter, Facebook and other social networks from one place.Always be reciprocal – follow people who follow you, retweet, recommend your followers to others. Remember that Twitter is a social network and it does not make you more influential if you have a lot of followers, but you don’t follow anyone.

Don’ts:

Neglect or underestimate the value of maintaining your bio (people will judge you by this) and presence. When people are deciding whether or not to follow you, they will look at your bio, if you regularly post, and if your information is interesting and original.Overuse third party tools and applications (you must be “real”). There are tools that can over automate Twitter – people will see through this and avoid you. Just use normal practices. It’s fine to schedule messages, but avoid things like services that promise to deliver followers.Ignore messages. It’s like not returning a phone call or not waving back at someone who waves at you. It’s rude and it a sure fire way to get people to unfollow you. Again, Twitter is a social network – be social.Sell directly. Twitter is not a sales tool, it’s a relationship network. Sales come naturally after a relationship is built. It’s no different that walking up to a stranger and putting on a hard sell before they even know anything about you.Don’t tweet too often. People want to hear from you, but they don’t want you to flood their timeline. Find the right balance.Don’t send anything until you are sure you want it viewed – deleting things once they have been transmitted probably won’t work.

49% of B2C companies already use Twitter and generate 2x the number of leads compared to those that don’t. I think it’s time you consider using Twitter for Business.

How To Make Social Media Marketing For Small Businesses Pay Off

I own an advertising agency and can’t figure out why people want to spend so much money on advertising yet they will invest so little in social media marketing. For a relatively small investment (time) the returns are potentially huge. Sure we love our TV advertising clients and we love designing great looking magazine ads but when you want to buy something, anything where do you look? If you are like most people the answer is that you search the internet to find just about everything.

This is where I feel that so many small business owners miss the boat. Some business owners get started with social media marketing and fail to give it the time required to make it pay off. They generally will setup something using these four:
FacebookLinkedINYoutubeTwitter

Then once they have all of those accounts setup they will put something out there on each of them and forget all about it after that. There are so many more social media marketing for small businesses opportunities available than just those four and many only require some time. Before we consider other options let’s consider how to properly use these four first.

With Facebook it is not enough to keep posting info about your company. In fact posting your own promotional information is likely to get people to leave your Facebook page by clicking the Unlike button. Posting several times a day or even once a day may be too much for many people because your advertising floods their Facebook news feed. Instead of using Facebook to spam people begin to view Facebook and all forms of social media marketing as if they were face to face networking opportunities. If you and I just met today, in person, for the first time would you say, “HI WERE HAVING A HUGE BLOWOUT SALE ON…” or would you just talk to me. Let’s have a conversation! Look at how the internet has changed over the past few years.
Web 1.0 – We could search for something and read about it online.Web 2.0 – We could publish by blogging or uploading videos.Web 3.0 – We take the internet with us on our phones and everything is about ME!

Since the web is all about the user and their interaction with our websites let’s talk, let’s have a two-way conversation with people who just might like us and interact with our brand. On your Facebook page for your business ask a question. Get people to give an opinion. Think of some excuse to have a contest so you can give away something your company sells. Use these tips and see your Facebook marketing efforts pay off. One thing that also helped us was when we built our own customized Facebook page. We force people to click “Like” on our page. OK we can’t really force people but we offer something of value. We tell them that we’ll give them a free report and this causes them to click “Like”. Once we set our designers and programmers to work on creating our own customized Facebook page the number of “Likes” quickly went up. This brings up an important point. When we post something on our Facebook page it appears in the news feed of anyone who clicked “Like” so we do want people to “Like” our page.

Social media marketing for small businesses can also use LinkedIN. If you have set up your personal profile then look at the top right side of the LinkedIN and click “Add a Company”. Once you do that then it is easy to add info about your company. Then after you have added info about your company start finding questions people have posted about topics related to your industry and provide answers. The person who asked the question will then be asked to pick the best answer. If you provided the best answer then everyone will see this and you appear to be the most well-informed person in your specific type of business. This doesn’t ONLY appear to people interested in the question being asked; it also appears in the news feed of all of your LinkedIN contacts.

On Youtube the good news is that you can publish a video that you make yourself. Maybe you have a camera and microphone built into your computer. If you do then you only have to think of a topic in your industry and make a video that lasts about 2 minutes. For example in every business there are questions that almost everyone will ask. These are the FAQ’s we often put on our websites so why not make a video where you have someone ask you each question and you provide the answer. Millions of people use Youtube to search for information and you can help them when they are looking for info where you are an expert!

When Twitter first came out were you impressed? Maybe you were like millions of others who wondered what you would tweet in 140 characters and who would care. Twitter users often have software set to “Follow” tweets on topics of interest to them. You might write a blog and then use Twitter to send it out to your followers. Some people get creative and offer a deal using Twitter. For example “First 50 in the store tonight say “Tweet” get 20% off” will get your followers to notice.

There are many other ways that small business owners can save a fortune on advertising by investing some time in social media marketing. There are also many great books and ebooks that have been written about social media marketing for small businesses.