Making Social Media Work For Your Small Business
Old-school salesmanship and social media marketing have a lot in common. Contrary to popular belief, the best salesmen aren't the ones who talk their prospects into buying something. No, the best salesmen are the ones that listen. They listen to every word the prospect has to say before making a judgment about whether they can sell anything.
Social media is a lot like that. For small businesses, this type of internet marketing is very different from traditional SEO because it represents a way for you to interact with potential and existing customers on a very informal level. Because of this, you're allowed entry into a world that you otherwise wouldn't be privy to. The key thing to remember, in a business context, is to listen. Do a lot of listening. Listen (or rather, read) everything that your potential customers have to say before offering them anything. Instead of rushing in with your solution, listen to their problems and challenges. Let them tell you what bothers them the most. Most importantly, focus on the high-value sites (at least initially).
Social Media Overview
There are several social networking sites you should consider if only because of their sheer size and influence on the Internet.
Facebook: Facebook is one of the most popular sites in the world now. With over 600 million users, the company claims tat over half of its user-base logs on every day. That's a lot of potential customers sitting there staring at their screens waiting for you to interact with them. The way you harness the power of Facebook is by setting up a company fan page and then promoting that page. You can use any tactic you want from Facebook ads to Google ads to banner advertisements to organic rankings of your page.
Twitter: Twitter is one of the most active sites on the Internet. The site works by allowing people to send out messages, called tweets. People tweet about all sorts of things. These short, 140 character, messages are like sending out a text message to the world. The only question is: what are you going to say? To harness the power of Twitter, customize your profile page so that it looks radically different from everyone else's page. Next, don't make the mistake of linking to your homepage (unless that page is your sales page). Instead, link your profile page to a landing page where visitors can learn more about your company and give them the option of following you on Twitter, "liking" your Facebook page, and connecting with you on other social sites. When you send out tweets, be different, exciting, and yet still relevant to your target audience. Follow people on Twitter and encourage them to follow you back.
LinkedIn: This site is a must if you're a businessperson. It boasts a professional network of millions of people, and is a goldmine for B2B sales. To harness the power of LinkedIn, sign up and do a really good job of customizing your profile. Get recommendations from people, and join groups that you think are comprised of your ideal customers. Finally, answer questions and become active in the LinkedIn community. Participate in discussions on groups and offer helpful advice.
The Problem With Social Networking
The biggest challenge you're going to run into is expense. No, it doesn't cost you any money to join any of these sites. It does cost you a lot in the way of time, however. You see, you still have to set up your social media accounts and manage them all. That can be a full-time job in and of itself. Posting to social networking accounts about how your business is doing, asking and answering questions from people, and offering free advice doesn't translate into any revenue (at least not directly).
Outsourcing your social media campaign is one of the best moves you can make - especially if you're growing at a rapid pace. By outsourcing your social media marketing, you free yourself to focus on the tasks that make money for your company. Hiring a company that can do the job for about £5 per day is a good place to start. Make sure you interview the company you're working with extensively before signing a contract. Find out how long the company has been in business and ask for referrals. Most importantly, don't think that you will be totally shut off from the process. A good company will manage your social media campaign while still asking for your input and insight on the overall strategy.