Though many small businesses are apt to still favor newspaper advertising and direct mail, which are time-intensive and costly, Small businesses and Entrepreneurs that adopt online marketing strategies see significant business benefits, ranging from increase in sales to broader market which results in a higher return on investment (ROI), according to a study conducted by Forrester.
Social media is a very valuable and cost effective tool for small businesses. Social media allows businesses to directly connect with their customers, reducing costs associated with traditional marketing and advertising. Not only can they reach customers but they can also interact with them. Nowadays, social media can be much more effective than the “old fashioned” method and can be done quite cheaply or even for free.
Social media is basically one person (customer) advertising your business to other potential customers. Unlike the normal word of mouth advertising of before, online social media allows the word to get to thousands of people instantly. One customer can easily bring in hundreds more depending on their online social reach. Positive reviews written on sites that specialize in rating businesses and products can have immediate results. Online potential for customers is unlimited.
Here are a few services available to get small businesses up and running in the modern world of online social media marketing and hopefully increase sales and profits.
With all the buzz, you would think that Facebook had replaced the internet itself. These days it seems like everyone is on Facebook, and that’s not too far from the truth. Much like the behemoth search engine, Google, businesses can attract followers and fans are notified instantly when a business post to their Facebook page. Facebook offers advantages that many social media site don’t. Namely it lets businesses create a page complete with photos, videos, and lots of information. The business can post maps to their location, product descriptions, special offers, etc. and customers will be able to see them immediately.
Facebook pages that offer followers a way to participate on the site are the most popular. Many large businesses have their own custom designed Facebook applications that customers can use. These interesting applications are a great way to attract new followers and potential customers.
Who hasn’t heard of Twitter? One can’t turn on a television these days without hearing about some celebrities Twitter account and followers. Businesses use Twitter in the same way celebs do to increase their popularity and keep “fans” updated on their happenings. Hard core Twitter uses can be reached almost perpetually. Businesses can use this for speedy advertising. An example might be a company that needs to clear out overstock quickly and need a sale announced as soon as possible. By announcing with Twitter, word of the sale (using hash tags i.e. #sale) is announced instantly to a large group of customers and customers will begin to materialize often within minutes of the Tweet going out.
The more creative a business is in there Twitter postings, the more effective their reach will be. Posts that are entertaining and informative will gather the largest number of followers and the most potential customers.
Yelp is another excellent social media tool for businesses. Yelp is a local business search service that allows businesses to post their information and descriptions of their goods and services. Customers can post reviews and also rate the business for other customers to see. Posting complete information in Yelp is an excellent way for businesses to attract new customers.
A blog, such as WordPress, is an essential social media tool. Businesses can use blogs to either write specifically about the business or they can post information relating to their target market or “niche.” Customers looking for information about products or services can arrive at the blog and will likely eventually wind up at the company’s website.
Blogs can be as creative as a business wants to get and the more creative the better. Blogs can also direct readers to the business’s Facebook and Twitter pages to create instant followers. Search Engine Optimization or relevant content, will increase the blog’s number of hits and lead to increased exposure.
All of these social media strategies depend largely on fresh, relevant content. Encourage consumers to follow your business by offering contests and specials only available through the sites. Make sure to update often with new content to encourage people to check in often. Once a business gets its social media engine up and running, company exposure will spread at an amazing rate. These days businesses can’t afford not to take advantage of these free services.
For more information on Social Media Marketing
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