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.

Five Tips to Improve Your Facebook Fan Page Exposure

In the past creating a website provided you with an online presence. While it’s still an important part of promoting and marketing your business, it’s no longer enough. When social media came into play it became one of the most effective ways to reach your clientele and was quickly included in many organizations’ marketing plans.

Thinking it would be a passing fad, many hesitated getting involved with social media, but once they realized the potential increased exposure, ability to establish your brand and connect to your clients directly, it soon became one of the best options for businesses of all sizes and shapes.

I consider the top four social media platforms to be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and an active blog.

Originally established as a way to connect on a personal level only, Facebook is considered a leader in social media. As it has continued to grow and seen the benefits for marketing a business, the Facebook Fan Page provided a way for businesses to promote, market and brand themselves.

This allowed Facebook a great way to allow you to maintain a personal connection with family and friends, while allowing businesses to keep a more professional and controlled image of their products and services, making the Facebook Fan Page an excellent choice for business.

Business Facebook Fan Pages have many of the same features as personal pages. You can still share articles, photos, videos, and applications, but all of the content is related to your business.

Here are my five tips to improve your Fan Page exposure:

Be a resource

Consider the information your customers need to make an informed decision. Posting articles and links to useful information on your wall helps showcase you as an expert and allows you to introduce new products, special promotions and other business details that will entice sales and get your clients to return again and again.

Connections

Facebook’s tools allow you to interact with customers. Be sure to respond promptly to comments, discuss product benefits and link new customers to your website for more information. Increase client loyalty by targeting your offers without being spammy.

Give it a Human Touch

To increase the level of connection with your clients, as long as you keep it professional, pictures and personal information put a face on you and your company. This is a great way to get followers.

Make Frequent and Timely Updates

Keep your profile, articles, photos and video content up-to-date and current. It’s not enough to throw up a page and ignore it. Make sure to respond to customers who become fans. Create a group for your business and encourage participation. You should also be involved, answer questions and share expertise related to your business, in groups that connect you with your target marked.

Be An Innovator

Facebook moves fast. Don’t be afraid to try the latest thing. Explore webinars, and other interactive media as options to improve business relationships.

Creating a Facebook Fan Page is great way to integrate social media into your business marketing plan. Don’t forget to provide links from your website and/or blog to your Fan Page. Connect through other social media and continue to grow your network. In no time your Fan Page will be an integral part of your successful online marketing campaign.

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.

Secrets of Twitter and Social Media in Building a List of Targeted, Hungry Prospects

Twitter is without a doubt a popular platform. Not only does it have millions of subscribers but famous people from all over the world are signed up to this website. With this reason, online sellers have a good chance of reaching their goal in list building with the help of this site along with other social media websites.

Types of sites

There are a lot of social media sites to choose from, there’s Twitter, Facebook, Friendster, MySpace and more. But the main objective of these sites is to bring people closer and provide smooth and instant communication.

It is not a surprise that online marketers have chosen Twitter to promote, sell their products and connect with their target market. Entrepreneurs are able to connect with millions of users from all over the world, making it easier for sellers to populate their list of leads. But there is more to it than just collecting contact information of your potential buyers; it can also help in increasing your sales.

Popularity of sites

Social media sites have been popular for years and they are getting better and better. Sites like Friendster and MySpace may have gone down in popularity rating but they are still around. Do not be too concerned about a social media site closing down, because this almost never happens.

Do not worry about a decrease in your list of subscribers over time, just focus on the present and think of ways to gain subscribers. Don’t be afraid to try new strategies and be-friend fellow social media users. They might be able to offer help and advice on how you can reach your goal in list building and boost your sales.

Relationship building

Social media sites have this unique ability of letting you feel closer and build relationships with your customers. In blogs, the more you post information or experiences that are applicable to other people, the more comments and readers you gain. The same situation applies to “tweets”.

With “tweets”, it is easier to inform customers about product updates, promotions, and sales. You can even include a promotional code that is only valid for those who have read the promotion from a certain site. People will be more than happy to follow you and read your updates.

List building is not the only benefit in joining Twitter and other social media sites. These sites ensure that you are able to update your customers, and you are updated with what your customers think of your product. It helps improve your relationship with your customers and boost your sales at the same time.

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!

How to Use Social Media for Your Business

Using social media as a tool to promote a site is something that is becoming more and more common, as various people have finally worked out that this method allows the promotion of a site to millions of different people. Generally speaking there are three different social media sites that people use in order to increase the amount of exposure that they get, namely Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But what are the relative merits of each of these different social networking hubs?

Facebook

Facebook is the biggest social media site around and therefore it is incredibly important that you use this site to engage with a huge number of different people. Granted, these people are not going to see your updates unless they are your friends or like your page, but this can be accomplished by encouraging all visitors to your site to click on the “like” button on your page and therefore receive all of the news from your business.

It must be remembered when using Facebook though that it is not a site designed for selling – it is a social site designed to facilitate dialog between people. This means that you should ensure that you mix your different updates up, with some being salesy and others being more of an attempt to start a discussion with the people getting the updates. In fact, engaging with friends and those liking your business can even be a great way to push sales forward, as people will be more inclined to buy from a site that they feel part of.

Twitter

Twitter is, in my option, basically a slimmed down version of Facebook that allows you to connect with people but doesn’t involve the endless amounts of groups, game requests and other trash that you are privy to. This means that Twitter is simple – all you have to do is write your Tweet and then post it, usually along with a link.

Twitter is a great tool for internet marketers as it is, like Facebook, completely targeted, but unlike Facebook there are no distractions to make people miss your updates. It is also easy to follow people in Twitter with the same interests as you by searching through the hashtags, meaning that you can get a completely targeted audience when they follow you back.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the new kid on the block and, as such, people don’t fully understand yet about the different aspects that using LinkedIn can provide to a business. What is known is that it connects different professionals together and as such it is a great platform for making working relationships an expanding your business in different ways. It won’t be a good place to make sales though, as people on this site are not interested in this at all.

So, as can be seen, Twitter and Facebook are great ways to engage with potential customers and therefore up the amounts of profit that your website makes. If you want to forge new business relationships and increase your potential, LinkedIn is without doubt the way to go. My advice though? Sign up to all three and get the best of every world!

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.

Direct Sellers and Small Businesses: How to Socially Bounce

Social media is one of the latest tools that direct sellers and small businesses can utilize in reaching their audience and engaging with their consumers. Brands of today realize the importance of establishing a presence in the online world, since this is the way most people are now connecting with the businesses, brands, and products they love. And because social media is currently where the people are, it’s also where most brands choose to connect with their customers and build relationships with them.

Of course, it’s important that before you decide to use social media in your campaign, you need to make sure that you already have your plans laid out. You don’t want to just jump into the fray without a strategy in place. And you should definitely understand how you’re going to integrate the different social networking sites with your brand.

But perhaps the main problem that plagues brands that utilize social media is the fact that it is easy to commit social blunders. The viral effect of social media is quite well-known, and it can be both a blessing and a curse. Even people are affected by what they do on these social networking sites, resulting in not getting hired for a job they applied to, getting fired from their current position, and even earning a bad reputation.

Sometimes, you don’t even know that you’ve made a social media mistake until it’s reported and spreads like wildfire through the online world. Now you can either just bury your head in the sand and hope it dies out soon, or you can take steps to do what you can to salvage your reputation.

As a direct seller or small business owner, how do you recover from a social blunder? How do you socially bounce back and keep your brand and reputation intact? Here are some tips.

1. Address the problem as soon as you can

One of the worst things you can do is to ignore what happened and hope that it eventually dies out, because the more that you don’t address the situation, the more that people will speculate about it until a small social media mistake can evolve into a bigger problem.

Think of it this way – the problem isn’t going to resolve itself by its own, so the sooner you address it, the better for your brand. If a customer has a bad experience and starts posting about it on your social media pages, make sure to address it quickly, admit where you went wrong, and work on improving your performance. Customers will appreciate the fact that you didn’t just brush off their concerns or make excuses for what happened.

Also, make sure that you monitor your social media pages regularly so that you’re updated with what’s happening. You don’t want to act too late, since the more people who learn about what happened without feedback from you, the worst it can get.

2. Learn from the mistake

Committing a social faux pas doesn’t mean the end of the world nor the end of your brand. You can actually learn from your mistake, make improvements in your business, and come out a better brand.

So if your mistake was tweeting something you thought was silly, but actually ended up offending some people, you should definitely take that as a lesson. When it comes to social media, if you’re going to post something that may be politically incorrect or that may put you in a bad light for some people, it might be better to just avoid posting it in the first place. You don’t want to ruin your brand just for the sake of a few laughs. You want to ensure that what occurred doesn’t happen again.

3. Build a strong community

Even direct sellers and small business owners can benefit a lot from building a strong community around your brand. When you have loyal brand advocates who are willing to go the extra mile for you, then any social blunder you commit will probably not affect you that much since there are people who will defend your brand. So it’s really important that you engage your consumers and build a good relationship with them, because this is what results in a strong community.

Yes, you can socially bounce back from even the worse social blunders as long as you make sure to address the problem quickly, learn from your mistakes, and build a strong community around your brand. Remember that a social media campaign takes some effort, so make sure that you plan well and ahead so that you can really build an excellent brand and avoid mistakes.

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.