While some small business owners still think that social media is just a “trend,” social media marketing has proven to be an excellent and cost-effective way to promote your small business. After all, social media allows you to personalize your business brand and develop business relationships with both potential and current customers.
There are a number of ways you can promote your business on the top social media sites, such as Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+:
Although it’s the “new kid on the block” when it comes to social media websites, Pinterest is, without a doubt, an extremely popular website. In fact, in December 2011, Pinterest boasted an outstanding membership of 10.4 million members. Furthermore, in the second half of 2011, Pinterest received a whopping 40-fold traffic increase.
Pinterest is a social networking website that permits users to share images by “pinning” photos or videos to pinboards. These pinboards usually have a common theme such as crafts, weddings, or recipes. These “pins” can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter for additional exposure. That said, as the content is mostly visual in nature, this social media site is more geared toward creative types and visual artists.
How to Use Pinterest
When you register, use the same email address that you use for your business Twitter account, as you will be able to share your pins more easily. Of course, if you wish to share your Pinterest posts on your Facebook account, simply login to Facebook via Pinterest.
- Use Your Business Name. Place your business name in the first and last name section on your profile.
- Link to Your Business Website. Also, write a short, informative blurb about your company to include with the link. In addition, for each posted “pin,” again link to your website to encourage traffic to your site.
- Upload Images of Your Products. Upload photos and ask viewers to comment on them.
- Offer Prizes for Contests. For additional exposure, run contests or offer prizes, such as for the user who “re-pins” the most of your content.
- Upload Images of You and Your Employees. Add photos of you and other employees actively engaged in various activities. This shows that real people work for your business.
- Engage With Other Users. One great way to engage users is to “re-pin” their images.
Interested in using Twitter to promote your small business? This is a great choice. As of early 2012, Twitter has an impressive base of six to nine million users.
How to Use Twitter
- Create an Account With a Relevant Name. Additionally, include pertinent info about your company in your profile. Ensure that your profile is clutter-free and visually striking.
- Follow Other Relevant Businesses, Organizations, and People. You should “follow” users with whom you wish to conduct business with in the hopes that they will follow you back.
- Engage Other Businesses via Twitter. You can engage these users by retweeting their posts, answering their questions, and commenting on their tweets – or even commenting directly on their blogs.
- Post Consistently. To position yourself as an expert in your field, post new tweets on a regular basis. Make certain that the vast majority of your tweets offer helpful resources, links, and general information.
- Get Involved With TweetChats. To get further acquainted with Twitter users, chats are a great idea. If you are not familiar with TweetChats, they essentially function as online conversations that utilize Twitter as a “chat room.”
- Respond to People. Remember to reply to users who retweet, comment, or send you a direct message.
- Generate Buzz. Run a contest or provide followers a chance to win a prize by retweeting your posts.
- Actively Advertise your Twitter Account. You can market your Twitter account on your emails, business cards, and other marketing material.
Facebook is a social networking tool to be reckoned with, especially considering that the site attracted 500 million members in just six short years. Consequently, promoting your small business on Facebook makes excellent business sense, as more people spend time on this social networking site than any other. One of the best ways to promote is by creating a Facebook page.
How to Use Facebook
Keep in mind that many of Twitter’s marketing strategies also apply to Facebook. And remember: Your objective, at least initially, is to build relationships with potential clients, not to make direct sales.
- Post Links to Your Blog or Website. In addition, link to other pertinent content.
- Ask Questions. In order to interact with users, engage them in conversations.
- Offer Special Deals. To reward your Facebook fans, provide special offers on a regular basis.
- Upload Plenty of Quality Images. Since Facebook Timeline is more visual than previous versions of the Facebook interface, this strategy is an excellent one – images can create a great amount of interest and traffic.
- Upload Content Frequently. As a general guideline, upload fresh material at least a few times per day.
- Issue Promotions. In order to keep your audience interested, offer promotions on a weekly basis.
- Make It a Habit to Market. Remember to include your Facebook page web address on your emails, business cards, and other marketing materials.
With approximately 135 million users and growing, LinkedIn is definitely the world’s largest professional social network today. After all, small business professionals and career professionals utilize this site to further their career and business goals. It’s no wonder there are so many opportunities to connect with others and grow your small business at the same time.
How to Use LinkedIn
Thoroughly complete your profile, since LinkedIn research states that you and your business will have a 40% greater chance for connecting with others. After all, your LinkedIn profile is your first line of introduction to people you may do business with in the future.
- Upload a Professional Image of Yourself. Since people prefer to conduct business with people that they know and trust, uploading a personal photo is a must.
- Describe Your Small Business Effectively. Write about your company in a persuasive yet concise manner.
- Make Your Profile Visible to Others. After all, you want other people to find your small business.
- Add a Link to Your Twitter Profile. This gives people another way to get in touch with you. Moreover, you can link to more than one Twitter profile.
- Post Regular Status Updates. As a means to communicate and inform your audience, update your status consistently.
- Join Relevant LinkedIn Groups. In addition to updating your status, you can communicate with others in certain LinkedIn Groups by posting and answering questions within the group. In this way, you increase your visibility and become recognized as a trusted authority. In turn, people from these groups may approach you to conduct business with them.
- Take Advantage of LinkedIn Answers. This section is located under the “More” section on the LinkedIn top toolbar. Browse through these questions, and answer the ones that are related to your professional skill set.
- Remember That Recommendations Are Important. People tend to believe what others say about you more than what you say about yourself. Therefore, if your LinkedIn profile is filled with glowing recommendations, you are well on your way to obtaining new business.
- Create a LinkedIn Group. If you want to be respected as an expert in your field by your peers, consider creating a LinkedIn Group. However, remember that you must take a leadership role and start discussions on relevant topics.
Google+ is essentially a social networking website that resembles Facebook and Twitter. While Google+ is still behind Twitter and Facebook when it comes to number of active users, the website is still important for general marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) purposes.
How to Use Google+
- Share Photos and Other Images. Displaying individual images such as charts, slides, and photos helps to generate traffic and starts conversations.
- Post Status Updates. Ensure that these posts interest and educate your target audience. Moreover, you can also engage with other users by commenting on their posts.
- Take Advantage of the Unique Video Chat Feature. In order to help foster relationships, Google+ offers a great video chat feature that you can utilize.
- Remember to Add Recommended Links. To create additional business leads, add links to your favorite blog posts and other business offers.
- Market Your Google+ Page. Some great places to promote this link include on your business website, emails, and other marketing materials.
While there are definitely other means to market your small business, marketing via social media can be a fun way to promote your business in a cost-effective manner. That said, while Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are suitable for many different business types, Pinterest may be more geared towards a more creative business such as a graphic designer or a wedding planner. However, regardless of your business type, by combining multiple forms of social media marketing, you can give your business a major boost.
Which of the social media platforms has brought you the most success?