You must start with outlining clear goals for your social media marketing efforts and figuring out how you will measure success. Once you have don with outlined your goals, let’s look at 10 great ways you can begin to leverage social media for your marketing efforts.
Facebook offers exceptional, low cost marketing opportunities for small business. Facebook now has more than 300 million users, and while that seems like an outrageous number for small businesses to be targeting, Facebook offers a very powerful platform on which to build a presence. If you are not already active on Facebook; you should get started get away.
If you haven’t signup for Facebook yet, you should do it as soon as possible. Once you have signed up, you should also consider securing your company’s username. Be aware, however, that if you reserve your company name for your personal account, you won’t be able to use it for your Business Fan Page, so you may want to create a page before registering your company’s name. Fan Pages have special rules regarding usernames.
You should do one thing: search for your competitors and evaluate their Facebook presence. What types of pages have they built? How many friends or fans do they have? Spend only 15 minutes (per competitor) looking at their posts, photos and/or videos to understand how they are using Facebook.
You may have already a personal Facebook account, but how do you extend that presence for your business? You have several options. You can register a Business Account – which is designed for a very simple presence on Facebook. There are many limitations on such accounts, however, so you will most likely prefer to have a Business Fan Page. A Business Fan Page lets you create a page where customers or fans of your business can register as a Fan – expanding the presence of your business. You might also want to consider running hyper-local ads on Facebook.
Twitter has grown tremendously over the past year. For small business, if offers an incredible marketing platform. Business Week’s recent profile of 20 ways to businesses use Twitter might give you some ideas about how you can leverage Twitter for your business.
If you don’t have signed up on Twitter yet, you should sign up today and reserve an account in the name of your business. While you might ultimately tweet in your own name, you will want to have the opinion to tweet from a business account. More importantly, you don’t want your competitors to register your business name. Twitter has put together a simple guide to help you to understand what twitter can do for business.
Next, you should spend 15-30 minutes on Twitter’s home page, doing basic searches to become familiar with the type of content available on the service. For example, if you are operating a small gift basket business, do some searches for various terms and phrases such as “gift basket”, “gifts”, “gift basket business”, etc. You should also search for the names of competitors to see whether they are on Twitter and if they are using it. And don’t forget to search for your small business name – your customer may already be talking about you. Once you become comfortable with the content that’s already available and how your competitors are using Twitter, you can being thinking about a strategy for how you will leverage Twitter for your business.
To truly leverage Twitter, you will want to learn and use a few more advanced tools. This includes desktop and mobile Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Seesmic, and Tweetie. Desktop clients give you more flexibility and more control over your Twitter strategy than you will have on the Twitter website. Among other things, you will be able to predefine searches and group people you follow so that you can minimize the noise and focus on the real content. You might also consider using a web tool like Twitterfall, which will allow you to define various custom searches that you can review form time to time, and also to follow trending topics. For example, I use Twitterfall to identify helpful graphic design and industrial design resources to share with crowdSPRING community.
3. Company Blog:
Although there’s more attention focused today on social networks than on company blogs, blogs continue to offer great value for small businesses.
At a minimum, you should consider reserving a domain name for your blog if you don’t already have a custom domain for your business. If you are comfortable enough to set up you own blog, that’s generally the best way to proceed, although this requires a bit more technical knowledge.
One easy alternative is to set up a simple blog at Posterous- a place to post stories, photos, videos, MP3s, and files. There are pluses and minuses to all of these options- you should take some time to compare them and do what makes sense for your business. I caution you only about spreading yourself too thin.
Now that you have decided to start or improve your small business blog, how do you build an audience for it? It all starts with great content. Decide on a focus for your blog, and write awesome content that people will enjoy. For example, some months ago at my company, we decided that we wanted to write more about small business issues, so we have been writing original posts focusing on issues affecting small businesses. Think about your expertise and more importantly, think about the thing that you are interested in writing about. A blog requires a long term investment of time and you don’t want to be stuck writing about things that before you.
You will also want to consider how you can make it easier for your readers to help promote your content. For example, install helpful plug-ins, such as Tweet Meme button, which makes it easy for people to re tweet your posts on Twitter. Don’t afraid to experiments with plugins to add to the functionality of your blog, but keep it simple. You want to keep the blog focused, and easy for your readers too.