Small Businesses and Social Media

Social media and small businessesI often talk to small business owners or employees who ask about social media. “How do I find time for it?” “What should I post?” When you decide to venture into the world of social media marketing, it’s important to remember that things are not the way they used to be.

Social media puts users in charge. No longer are you telling them what they can have; they are telling you what they want and sharing it if it’s worth their time. If you disappoint them, they will use social platforms to let others know about it. It’s no wonder some companies prefer to keep a low profile socially. But I think that’s a mistake.

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and the rest can be extremely good sources of traffic for your company if you know how to use them efficiently. The problem most people have, in my opinion, is wanting to post all their own content all the time. It might seem logical that the more you post links to yourself, the better off you’ll be, but that just isn’t true. Let’s talk about what to expect from Twitter and Facebook and how to post effectively. When Progressive Insurance found itself the subject of a negative story that went viral in 2012, they issued a formal, corporate response that drew outrage. Why? Because it felt harsh and inhuman. Learn from their mistake, and be sensitive to your followers and fans.

What Should I Expect?

First, it will take time to build followers. You could try to buy “likes” on Facebook or build followers in other similar ways, but that really won’t do you much good. Google doesn’t rank your site based on the number of likes or followers anyway. It’s a much better idea to build a reputation and grow your followers organically (without paying for them), even if it takes longer.

Second, social media could be a full-time job in itself. If you have the option to hire someone, even an intern (make sure you hire an experienced intern with a proven track record), it might help you in managing your time. Remember to optimize your profiles for best results!

Third, expect to invest time in building relationships. You may not see immediate results in terms of conversions, but over time those relationships will become loyal customers.

Last, expect people to speak to you candidly—they will tell you what they like and don’t like. And feel free to talk back! When you post online, talk like a person, not a corporation. People enjoy talking to other people and making a “face-to-face” connection.

What Should I Post?

No more than half of your posts should be about yourself, and even that number is considered high. Certainly if you have a great tool or new content, post it! And any time you update your blog, post that too. But look for other opportunities such as:

  • local events
  • charity work you’re involved in
  • other companies you admire
  • news stories that affect your industry
  • personal client stories or reviews
  • Q&A sessions

And don’t be afraid to interact with your followers. I’ve heard it said that Twitter is for helping people and answering questions. So do that! You can search Twitter for topics that apply to your company (Plumbing? Construction? Insurance?) and respond to those tweeting about those topics, especially in your area. Even if you don’t get a sale, your name will be associated with meeting needs, and that goes a long way.

Once I tweeted about how frustrated I was that our internet service was out again. Out of nowhere, a company employee in customer service contacted me on Twitter and apologized, offering to help me figure out the problem. I went from being enraged to being impressed!

Facebook is a little different. Facebook is about engaging your followers and getting them to interact. Ask them questions and give them personal answers to show that you’re interested in them. If you’re a car salesman, get your clients to post pictures of them with their new car—maybe from a road trip they just took—and share them on your page. Now you’ve got their loyalty, and they’ll probably share those pictures with their friends too!

Laura Lee – Account Manager

Enjoyed this post? Read more of Laura’s posts here.

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