For many small businesses owners, social media may seem daunting and unprofitable. After all, time is money and having a strong social media presence takes time. However, according to the Pew Research Center, 74% of online adults are on some social media site and many consumers turn to social media when making their purchasing decisions. As a small business owner, these are statistics you can’t afford to ignore.
Social media management may be easier than you think. Here’s a look at how an active social media presence can benefit your business and how to best use it to your advantage:
- Build Your Brand. One of the best ways to create brand awareness and loyalty is through social media. Social media allows you to interact with consumers on a daily basis and gives your brand credibility. In fact, consumers are more likely to purchase products from brands that they follow on Facebook and Twitter. Social media also allows you to “humanize” your brand. Businesses have their own personalities and your online presence is a reflection of that personality. Your customers will respond more favorably if they feel as though they are interacting with an actual person, not just a company. You can also improve your brand by looking at how your competitors are using social media. Chances are you have a similar audience as your competition. Find out what’s working for them and adopt similar practices.
- Be Social. There is no better way to engage with customers than through social media. Social networking allows you to actively communicate with your followers and quickly respond to any queries, complaints, or compliments. Having a dynamic online presence is the easiest way to receive feedback on your product and services; however, it is crucial to be accessible to your followers and actively responding to this feedback. 42% of online adults use social media as a means of seeking customer service and expect a response within 12 hours of filing a complaint.
Social networks are also great platforms to promote any deals or offers. The top reason why people follow businesses is for promotions and discounts and 90% of Twitter users say they follow brands to receive discounts. Promoting deals through social media gives potential customers incentive to follow and share.
- Its Free! (Well, for the most part). Getting started on the main social media platforms won’t cost you or your company anything in advertising dollars. Social media, when used correctly, can give your business free exposure and may not take up as much time are you think. According to a recent article from HubSpot, 84% of marketers reported increased online traffic after spending only 6 hours per week on social media.
One common hesitation that many small businesses have is that they don’t have the time or money to spend on perfecting their online presence. There are, however, many social media management tools to help you keep track of and schedule your posts, many of which are free to use:
- Hootsuite. Possibly one of the most popular and easy to use management systems, Hootsuite allows you to manage all of your platforms using one login, schedule your posts across all profiles, and track your success. Hootsuite offers three different plans, the most basic of which is free to use and allows you to manage up to 3 profiles and set one post at a time. Upgrading to Hootsuite Pro will cost you around $10 a month and allow you to manage up to 50 profiles and schedule 350 messages at a time. To compare plans visit https://hootsuite.com/plans.
- TweetDeck. TweetDeck allows you to filter and keep track of the topics and hashtags that are relevant to your company. It also allows you to easily schedule tweets and provides you with alerts to keep you updated on what’s trending in your field. https://about.twitter.com/products/tweetdeck.
- Social Mention. One of the easiest ways to determine how many people are talking about you and what they are saying. Simply type in your business name or related content and Social Mention links you to all of the blogs and networks who are talking about you. It’s completely free and can be used as a great tool for businesses that are just getting started with social media. Once you determine who is talking about you, you can then go out and engage with those users. http://www.socialmention.com/.
- Bitly. Bitly is most widely known as a link-shortening tool mainly used to keep your character count down on Twitter. However, the site has a lot more to offer and is 100% free! Bitly can provide you with feedback, help you determine your target audience, and monitor your click through rate. https://bitly.com/pages/tour.
- Everypost. Everypost is available in the App Store and allows you to construct a post to send out to all of your different accounts at once. It also has a built in feature that formats the post so that it is under the 140-character limit for Twitter.
Social media management doesn’t have to be a full time job. These are just a few of the free or affordable resources that are readily available. Do your research to determine which tool works best for your business.
- Increase Sales. The purpose of any business is to bring in revenue and the basis of any marketing plan is to know your target audience. In order to maximize sales through social media, you must first determine the sites your customers are frequenting. You don’t want to waste your time on Instagram if your audience spends all of its time on Pinterest. According to a recent article from Forbes, Facebook is still the best network for “business to consumer sales”. Businesses can even sell directly from their Facebook page by downloading the Ecwid App, which allows customers to shop for items through a company’s online Facebook shop. Social media also allows you to promote special deals that are only available to your followers and provide up to date product information.
A strong social media presence can provide exactly what your business needs. It will help you gain exposure and customers and spark a conversation about your brand. Social media is here to stay, so don’t wait any longer to get started!