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Social Media Strategies for Small Business

Today, people spend 27% of their time online on social networks, according to Experian. Businesses use it to build relationships with their existing customers and to increase brand awareness. If you own or work for a small business, social media can be a valuable tool.  

Decide Who You Are

Social media is a great place to humanize your brand. Decide who you want to be and why people should care about you.

If your brand was a person, what would they look like? How would they dress? How would they talk? What would they be interested in?

When you communicate on social media, keep the voice and topics consistent with the character and persona you’ve created for your brand.

Give the People What They Want

If you want to be successful on social media, you need to take off the sales hat. People don’t like to be pitched to.

Don’t use your social media profiles to continually talk about how good your business is and how people need to buy your products and services. No more than one-third of your posts should be self-promoting.

Instead, focus on your industry and anything that your target audience may be interested in beyond your immediate offerings.

For example, imagine that you own a local shoe store. You may feel inclined to post photos of all of your shoes, talk about sales, and tell people to come visit.

Instead, give them what they really want. Share information about local walking groups or trails in your area. Post funny videos of a child strutting his stuff in his brand new Air Jordans. These topics are completely related to your brand and are interesting without coming across as pushy.

Engage and Listen

Creating posts is one thing, but having a conversation is a different kind of interaction. Some posts are going to generate more engagement than others.

When a post starts to gain some traction, make sure you participate. Keep the conversation moving forward. This is where relationships are built.

It won’t take long before you come across negative comments on your posts. Remain calm and address the comments in a positive way, thanking your customer for the feedback and helping them toward a resolution if possible. Resist the urge to ignore, delete, or censor criticisms.

Social media is all about transparency. Staying cool and addressing concerns publicly can do wonders for your brand image.

Choose the Right Tools

This quick summary of social media platforms will help you focus on the tools that are right for your business.

Facebook: The biggest, baddest social network on the block, Facebook is a place to tell stories about your business to a massive audience. While every business is different, it’s a good bet that you and many of your customers spend time here.

Twitter: You can post as much and as often as you want on Twitter—each individual 140-character tweet is like a drop of water in an ever-flowing stream. It’s a fantastic platform for releasing and discussing the latest news, and it may be the first place your customers try to reach you if they’re having a problem with your business.

LinkedIn: This professionally-focused social network can be especially helpful if you’re looking for new employees—or a new business client. You can also post articles in a feed (similar to Facebook) and join groups to connect with those who share professional interests.

Google+: Google’s massive clout on the Internet makes Google+ important to keep an eye on. Because its user base tends to be a bit more selective, you might use your company’s profile to house longer posts and “behind-the-scenes” content about your business. One of the platform’s interesting features is Hangouts, which allow you to host a public live video chat and then post the recording on YouTube.                                                

Pinterest: A popular network among women, Pinterest allows users to create their own “pin boards” of curated images. If you’re targeting women or are in a highly visual industry—think fashion, architecture, fine dining, etc.—Pinterest may be a great way to connect with your customers. 

Instagram: This Facebook-owned platform is all about sharing images and short videos, which can be altered via colored filters. Lo-fi and inexpensive production values can fit here. If you’ve got a consumer-facing brand, Instagram is a place to show off your fun side.

Find the platforms used by your target audience and participate in those communities. It’s a great way to organically grow your following and find new opportunities.

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