According to the Social Skinny, as of May 2012, only 53% of today’s small businesses are using social media. Of those that are using social media, only 19% use Facebook and a meager 4% use Twitter. I was shocked that even today, the numbers are that small. If your small business isn’t on social media yet, you are truly missing out on a great opportunity to generate exposure and build a community around your products and services. As a small business owner, you may feel overwhelmed by the many social networks out there and not know where exactly to start. Here are some tips to help you out regarding the two most popular networks, Facebook and Twitter.
With 137.6 million unique visitors online per month in just the USA alone, any small business that depends on consumers needs to be on Facebook in order to maximize their potential. The new Facebook Timeline layout is especially useful for retail businesses that sell products because of its strong reliance on visuals. Facebook can also be a great tool for customer service, whether through wall posts or the new “Message” feature that allows consumers to express their concerns privately.
- When starting your business’ Facebook fan page, be sure to claim your vanity URL on Facebook as your business name so that your page is easy for customers to find.
- Create a visually pleasing Timeline cover image that attracts people to your page and invites them to keep reading.
- Consider using Facebook Advertising to gain a following at first and when you have built a community, offer coupons or hold a contest or giveaway to foster even more growth!
- Limit your updates to 1-2 posts a day. Relevant pictures, articles, videos or blog posts are great to share with your community. Try to ask questions related to the content in order to incite conversation.
As the second most popular social network, Twitter is a great tool to expose your small business. It is not just a place for large brands, coupon hoarders and news junkies. Small businesses that are primarily serving local customers, such as food trucks or restaurants, can especially benefit from the “real-time” communication aspect of Twitter to generate buzz for new locations or dishes. Further down the road, Twitter is also a great tool for creative content-based contests through hashtags or special promotion coupons.
- When creating a Twitter account, keep in mind that your company name may already be taken so you might have to be creative. As with Facebook page vanity URLs, as long as your username connects to your business, it will be recognizable.
- Be sure to include a photo on your profile, as well as an interesting bio that describes your company. You may even find it useful to include a picture of an employee, as people like to connect with other people, not necessarily brands.
- You can tweet pictures, articles, and videos just like on Facebook, but you may want to use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite to shorten links and spread your tweets out so as not to spam users.
- Use tools like Refollow or Tweepi to find people to follow and manage your followers. Be sure to follow experts in your industry and anyone who may be interested in your business. If you want someone to follow you back, consider “retweeting” some of their content or starting a conversation by mentioning them on your feed.
- Consider using Twitter Promoted Products. In March, Twitter released two promotions especially for small business: Promoted Accounts and Tweets. Your account will be featured in search results and the Who to Follow section, and your tweets can even be promoted geographically.
Hopefully these tips will help you get the conversations started on your small business. If you are like many other owners and just don’t have the time to keep track of all this, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.