There is no end to the advantages of social media for small businesses. The trick is learning what works and what doesn’t.
Not so long ago, a small business had little hope of marketing themselves like the big names. There’s no way Frank’s Diner or Tina’s Dress Shop could keep up with the advertising budget of a national, or even regional, chain. Social media has changed that in a big way. The hard part now is that it can be overwhelming, so many of the advantages of social media for small businesses go unclaimed.
It’s true, of course, that trying to keep up with social media marketing can be overwhelming, especially if you run a small operation. Should you post on LinkedIn? Make comments on Twitter? Share videos on Snapchat or Instagram? Is Facebook still good? Does anyone use Google+ anymore? Add in sites like Tumblr, YouTube, or Pinterest, and you could easily spend hours of every day managing your presence. Never mind the fact that you’re still competing with big businesses that have entire departments dedicated to their social media strategy.
Let’s slow down a second, though. You would never offer a new service or product without doing some research first, right? Likewise, just jumping into every available social media network isn’t the best way to spend your marketing time. Used strategically, social media can give you a massive return on your marketing budget. It can be “free” in that if you do it yourself it will only cost you in time, and it can be an excellent way to improve your customer service. In fact, there are plenty of small businesses that are using social media much better than some of the big corporations possibly could.
5 Advantages of Social Media for Small Business
1. You can choose your audience
Traditional advertising, like a newspaper ad, has its place. But when it comes to reaching your specific audience, nothing beats social media. You can meet your audience in their home, on their phone, or while they take a break at work. How? You can make it easy for them to find you by using hashtags on Twitter or Instagram. You can comment on shared interests on Facebook.
2. You can interact with your customers
This may be one of the most significant advantages of social media for small businesses. You can (and should) thank them when they praise you. You can (and should) respond to them when they criticize you (with patience and caring, not with a defensive or snide remark). You can “like” their photos or comments. In other words, you can treat them just like you would when you’re working directly with them. And because you have more flexibility as a small business, this is one area where you can not only compete, but you can outshine your big name competition.
3. You can create a buzz
There are several ways to do this, and it’s helpful, though not necessary, to already have a social media audience, but you can create a lot of buzz by having flash sales and picture caption contests, supporting local charities, promoting community events, and sharing a new recipe, product, or service. In some cases, you can even co-opt social media campaigns from larger competitors. Use your personality to your advantage.
4. Establish yourself as an expert
Participate in local discussions or Twitter chats and share your knowledge. Don’t be condescending, don’t argue, and don’t YELL (typing with your "Caps Lock" on). Comment on local news posts on Facebook or Instagram (again, sharing factual knowledge). Create short how-to videos for YouTube.
5. Connect with other businesses
Establishing partnerships isn’t new, but you can significantly expand the possibilities with social media. Run a plumbing business? Reach out to local contractors and congratulate them on a recent success. Own a restaurant? Comment on a local farm’s page or mention your favorite local brewery in your social media posts.
These are just some of the ways a small business can use social media, but there’s still the question of how to decide which platforms are right for you. Believe it or not, there’s a nearly effortless way to figure this out.
How to Claim the Advantages of Social Media
for Small Businesses
Some marketing decisions are easy to make. Should you spend $25 to advertise in your local middle school’s yearbook? Yes, because community involvement is good for you and your community. Other marketing decisions, like deciding which social media platform to use, may seem complicated, but once you cut through the noise, they aren’t really that hard.
So which social media platforms are right for your business? The reality is that you don’t have the time to put your business on every channel there is. There is some validity to the idea that a platform like Instagram is ideal for visual companies, like a bakery, while Twitter might be better for an information-based business, like a local magazine.
However, when it comes down to it, to get any of the advantages of social media for small businesses, you have to use a platform you enjoy. So if Pinterest is your thing, go for it. If you love making YouTube videos for your dog grooming business, have fun. Even if Facebook is the “best” option for your business, if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll stop using it—and that won’t help your marketing efforts at all.
Marketing your small business might take some effort, but protecting your business is easy. Call your local Pekin Insurance agent today to find out how our small business insurance policies can help give you peace of mind.