Using social media for Small business

Social media may have the lowest cost of entry of any marketing tool, but is not actually that easy to do well. In fact, a report by eMarketer found that small businesses are struggling to adopt social media, with only 24 percent of small firms having integrated social media in a structured way into their operations.

Knowing where to start is perhaps the number one obstacle holding many small business owners back. Knowing what to do when you get there is next.

So, whether you are new to social media or looking to go beyond using it in an ad hoc or informal way, here are 10 ways to make your small business social media activities rock.

  1. Pick the Site(s) that Works for You

Social media sites are emerging on an almost weekly basis, and it’s easy to become distracted or lost in the speed of change. So where should you focus your efforts?

Speaking at last year’s National Small Business Week social media panel, Erica Ayotte, social media manager with Constant Contact, recommends businesses start with one channel to test and nurture it. Then try to diversify: “Spend a little time each week exploring new platforms and figure out if they might be for you.” Speaking at the same event, GrowBizMedia’s Rieva Lesonsky recommends that you “find out where your customers can be found, go there first, and then spread out from there… if you run a restaurant, yes, you probably should be on Twitter, but you should really be on Yelp first.”

  1. Share Interesting and Visual Content

This is one area that really does take time. What’s interesting anyway?

Well, let’s start with the basics. If you have any news to share, and by news I mean “newsworthy” (i.e. something that impacts your customers directly) then go ahead and share it – things like holiday opening times, new offices, menu updates, charity events, etc.

Then add another tier – share quality content. Something you do well that will help you stand out in a crowd – blogs, white papers, tips, or quick “how to” videos (host them on YouTube or Hulu). Then use social media to amplify it. Feel free to share content from others (without breaking copyright) if it is relevant to your fans. Don’t be afraid to ask people what content they want you to share!

Another tier of content should focus on telling the big picture story of your business – showcase employees, community activities, or how customers are using your product or service. This is a great opportunity to be visual and stand-out in busy newsfeeds.

Remember, give it time. It takes time to figure out what works. For example, you might think about using polls and surveys to engage with followers, but if you are still growing your network, you might not get the right results – yet. So, keep trying new things until you find a sweet spot. And don’t forget, just because people may not be interacting with you yet, that doesn’t mean they aren’t listening, so keep the faith!

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