Social media Strategy for Small Businesses

Nellie Akalp is CEO of CorpNet.com, her second incorporation filing service based on her strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting and protecting their business. She has formed more than 100, 000 corporations and LLCs across the U.S. To learn more about Nellie and see how she can help your business get off the ground quickly and affordably, please visit here.

Many small business owners I encounter are either too busy for social media, or they don’t truly understand Facebook, Foursquare, or Twitter. So they choose to delegate these tools to interns or specialists. This may not always be in the best interest of the company.

I’m not a social media expert. Far from it. I haven’t ousted any mayors yet, and probably won’t anytime soon. But I am a small business owner and entrepreneur who truly embraces the unique opportunity that social media offers. Nothing else gives me such a direct way to "talk" with my clients and community on a daily basis. And people are what brought me into business in the first place.

Over the past few years, I’ve made it a point to explore and understand the social web around me. And while I’ll be the first to admit there’s a lot left to learn, here are a few key lessons I’ve discovered so far.

1. Your Customer Knows Best

Social media has little to do with you; it’s all about your audience, customers, or whomever you’re trying to reach. Marketing 101 says to think like your customer thinks. And the same holds true in social media. In my particular business, my clients aren’t necessarily flocking to Foursquare or augmented reality, but they are using LinkedIn and some other niche sites (in addition to Twitter and Facebook).

Not sure where your customers are on the social web? Just ask. Early on, I found myself asking clients if they were using any social networks. Most of the time, this simple question led to an interesting conversation and great insight on how I could take part and provide value. You don’t always have to be the expert — you can let your customers show you their way.

2. Social Media Isn’t Necessarily Free

Social media is attractive to small businesses because of its perceived price. You can set up a new blog, fan page, video site, and Twitter account without paying a dime. There’s no expensive software, or costly media buys. However, even though there’s a low price tag to enter the game, social media is far from free. It requires time, energy, and effort. It’s a never-ending commitment to create interesting content, listen to conversations, and respond.

Instead of rushing to join any and every social media community out there, I prefer the slow and steady approach. Pick one or two communities that are important in your market. Determine your key goals and define who will be responsible for keeping activity going day in and day out. And just remember that your time is valuable. This new marketing is far from free.

3. Don’t Measure Success by Follower Counts

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