Social media helps small business owners create buzz about their products and services and build strategic relationships at no cost. But before you spend time and effort building your social media presence, you need to understand how these tools can work for you so you can apply the most effective social media strategies to promote your business.
Social media as a two-way communication tool
Social media marketing is all about building relationships through constant communication with your target audience. Blogs, social networking (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), podcasts (BlogTalkRadio), online video (YouTube), photo sharing (Flickr, Photobucket), and product review sites (epinions, Yelp) enable small businesses to communicate, educate and share information directly with their prospects and existing customers.
Social media has made marketing fun. Instead of writing white papers and long articles that promote your products, you can tweet or blog about your business in an informal way that consumers will likely respond to. Content is also no longer limited to text – you can use audio and visual content to distribute your marketing message in an entertaining and interactive manner.
Social media communication is also more direct than traditional advertising. When you put out an ad on the newspaper, you only have a vague idea of which demographic it is reaching out to. Whereas with social media marketing, you are directly talking to the people you want to attract to your business. Social media has turned marketing into an actual conversation between small business owners and customers where both sides can share their opinions, receive feedback, and connect on equal ground.
Social media paves the way for collaboration
Social media has made consumers more proactive, giving them more power to make or break purchase patterns.
Social media collaboration tools such as review sites, video sharing sites and wikis allow users to speak their minds, exchange information, and potentially serve as an endorser for your small business. People are more likely to trust peers rather than companies, making social media a more powerful marketing tool than press releases or any other message that goes through official channels.
The power of mass collaboration has broken down the seller-buyer disconnect, thus resulting in a more lasting and trusting relationship between companies and consumers.
Social media helps small businesses sell
Social media marketing helps small businesses sell by increasing and improving relationships. When your followers trust you, they are more likely to buy from you and refer your business to their friends.
The key thing that small businesses need to remember when using social media is to provide value. Get people to engage with you by giving them something beneficial and enjoyable. Do not use social media to sell. Social media doesn’t sell things — people sell things. Through social media marketing, build a good reputation for your business so people will like you, listen to you, and eventually endorse you.