27 Oct Promoting Your Business with Social Media
Long gone are the days when the salesmen would travel door to door, canvassing neighborhoods for new customers. Since the internet is the people’s primary and most convenient source for information, businesses today rely on digital methods for promotion and customer acquisition. And because people (consumers) want quick answers and solutions, they often use mobile devices to find those answers. Those living outside of the digital world just cannot compete like they once could. This is one of the main reasons it is vital for your business to have a strong online presence.
Why social media vs other online modes?
Social media has proven to be perhaps the most effective and cheapest digital method for promoting businesses of every nature. No matter the niche, using social media is extremely beneficial and is a must for increasing traffic to your website, connecting with current and future customers, and even free advertising. According to Business Insider, “[n]early 20% of total time spent online in the US across both desktop and mobile devices is on social platforms.” People are constantly connected to social media so it only makes sense for entrepreneurs to take their businesses and products to social media.
Social media platforms have also morphed from being just a way to connect with friends and family to convenient and reliable methods of searching for and finding information. In fact, Google actually searches some of these social media platforms (like Google+, Twitter, and Facebook) when trying to match up search results with its query. Large social networks also have internal search engines that can be used to match up users with impressively accurate search results. For example, if you want to buy a used lawnmower, simply search “lawnmower for sale” and Facebook provides you with specific posts of lawnmowers that are for sale as well as the asking price, groups about lawnmowers for sale, photos related to lawnmowers for sale, people talking about lawnmowers for sale, and much more.
While there are certainly pros and cons for each platform and some of them are difficult to compare, in terms of popularity and number of users, Facebook is definitely the number one place to be. Business Insider reports 1.65 billion Facebook users in 2016. That is nearly 3 times the number of users as the next largest platform, Tumblr, at 550 million users. Facebook also accounts for nearly 14% of all of the time spent online.
Facebook is great for small businesses that want to connect with their local communities. Because users can “like” your page and “share” your content, your business information can spread very fast. Facebook allows businesses to create pages which can be used to communicate information like hours of operation, phone number, address, website, etc.
The best strategy, however, for promoting your business with social media is to use multiple platforms according to their strengths and your business needs and features. For example, if your business involves a lot of networking or connecting with other businesses or professionals, LinkedIn is the best tool for that job. If timely updates and current news is an integral part of your business, Twitter is the best way to send out updates and small bits of information quickly and to many users.
Here are some of the networks that I recommend for most businesses. Follow the links for information on setting up a business account.
Social Media Tips
1. Google My Business
Try this out: Go to Google and search “pharmacy near me.” Notice that at the top of the results is a map with a list of pharmacies near your location (or at least the location where Google thinks you are). In some cases, you may see small, locally owned pharmacies ranked higher than large chains like CVS or Walgreens. This is because Google doesn’t use its traditional algorithm to populate the map. Instead it uses Google My Business (or information gathered prior to Google My Business) to give users the most proximate and relevant information based on their location. This is fantastic news for small businesses. Thanks to Google My Business, you have the opportunity to outrank your competition and show up at the top of the Google search results depending on your location and proximity to Google users.
Google also allows you to list your business hours, phone number, address, website, photos, and other relevant information to be displayed in the right sidebar of the search results page. Take advantage of this free business listing on the largest search engine in the world. It is easy to set up. Click here to get started.
2. Automate your account
Engaging with followers, posting and sharing pertinent information, and staying active in the network is essential for you to get the most out of social media for your business. This can be a daunting task for some businesses, especially those that are unfamiliar with social media. Fortunately, there are several ways to automate your social media experience so that you can spend more time focused on other areas of your business.
- Hootsuite – Manage all of your social media accounts from one place. Hootsuite allows users to schedule messages and posts for future publishing, access in-depth analytics, collaborate with multiple team members to share the workload, and much more.
- Buffer – Much like Hootsuite, Buffer allows you to manage your social media accounts from one convenient location. It also comes with the ability to schedule posts, access analytics on your account activity, and collaborate with others.
- Commun.it – Perhaps the best way to auto-engage with your followers. The most valuable feature of Commun.it is the ability to send automatic responses to your followers when they engage with you in predetermined ways (e.g., send a thank you message to all new followers and tag your most engaged followers in a tweet).
This is by no means an all-encompassing list of all of the ways to save time and effort with social media. But these are free (to an extent) and easy to use. If you want to read about more ways to automate your social media tasks, try the following links:
3. Pay for ads
Social media ads are well worth the money. Because of all of the information that users provide social media networks, ads can be specialized in many different ways to target the people you want to reach the most. Facebook, for example, allows you to target users based on location, demographics, interests, behaviors, connections, and additional third-party information. With Twitter, you can build campaigns that are designed to achieve specific goals like increase website clicks, grow your audience, and boost app downloads.
Social media advertising is also very inexpensive compared to other ads. Because most of these networks allow you to bid on ads, you can start a campaign for as little as $5.
4. Engage with followers
Too many businesses just set up a business page and hope that someone will see it. While it is a convenient way to simply list your business information, it is something that any one can do and that all of your competitors are most likely doing. If you want to be preferred over your competition, you need to stand out on social media as well. A great way to do this is to engage with your followers in unique and creative ways. Consider the following list of engagement tactics:
- Surveys, Polls, and Questionnaires – Ask your followers something. Believe it or not, they actually enjoy answering questions. For better participation, use feedback to share the results of all of the responses that you have received. People want to know what others have voted too.
- Tags and Hashtags – Tag specific followers in your posts. This will get their attention and trigger a response.
- Giveaways and Drawings – Create incentives for shares, likes, retweets, follows, etc.
- Images and Videos – Any advertiser worth his weight in salt knows the importance of a good visual to catch the eye potential customers. Your goal is to stop the scroll so don’t rely solely on your ability as a writer to do that. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
For more tips like these, check out these resources: