Engaging your customers in a way that makes them feel welcome has always been a good way for small businesses to build a loyal following. Before big-box retailers and business-to-consumer websites existed, people frequented local businesses, where the owners were their neighbors and part of the community. They not only bought products, they developed social relationships with business owners.
Fast-forward to the current way business is conducted, and you will see more and more small businesses developing a strong presence on the Internet. Whether you have a small Internet-based business or operate a brick-and-mortar store in the middle of your town, you need to be online and use social media to stay competitive.
Why it Matters
No longer is social media just a place for kids to hang out online with their friends. After the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey about Internet usage. The survey revealed that in December, 67 percent of all adults who go online use social networking sites. With literally billions of people around the world using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and numerous other social sites, businesses need to incorporate social media into their marketing plans.
How to Get Started
You may already have a website where customers and potential customers can go to find out about your company and the products or services you offer. As every Internet marketing guru will tell you, your website must always be fluid. If you want people to come back, you need to add fresh content, and blogging is a great way to do that. Once you have some good content, you can link to it on social media sites and drive traffic to your website.
Not everyone is comfortable venturing into new territory, so if you’re unsure about how to promote your business online, get help creating your social media marketing campaign.
Find your Target Audience
One of the mistakes that you can make when getting started with a social media campaign is to try and be all things to everybody. That is impossible. Even a huge company like Disney knows that its focus must be on families with young children – why waste time marketing to people who are not interested in what you’re selling?
Do some demographic research to find out where your target audience hangs out online. Then develop content that will appeal to that audience, and start building a following.
Engage in Conversations with Potential Customers
Everyone wants to feel like they are important, so find a way to interact with the public. Stimulate conversation by posting a quiz about a service or product you provide. Use surveys and allow people to post their comments and opinions. It is important that you have someone continue the conversation and post results of surveys. Customers are usually happy to offer feedback, and they’re even happier when they know you’re listening to what they have to say.
Connect your Social Media Channels
Make sure that you connect your website to your social media channels with links in both directions. Social media allows you to reach a large number of people with very little expense. With practice, you will discover what works best for you and build a following of people who are likely to become customers.