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Is Social Media Right for Small Businesses?

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If you’ve been waiting for the right time to get started with social media for your small business, this is it. Most of the larger social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) have been around for years. It’s no longer a fad or just for teenagers. Small businesses have been watching and waiting to see if social media would work for them or didn't have time to try something new.

In this article, I want to share why social media is suitable for small businesses and how you can get started.

In the past, you'd need to hire someone to create marketing materials for you, find a public relations person to write a press release for you for big announcements, and maybe an advertising specialist to create ads. While you still need to find these people occasionally, social media can do the job of many of these specialties and reach people much more personally.

Diversify your marketing with social media

Social media combines sales, marketing, PR, and advertising for your company. Using online communication methods for your small business can help you grow locally and globally, depending on your goals.

44 percent of local businesses said they depend on social media to generate brand awareness, and 41 percent depend on it to drive revenue.”

In traditional marketing, would you limit yourself to only one marketing outlet? I can’t imagine the answer is yes. Likewise, don’t box yourself into a corner with social media. Spread your wings, try something new and determine what works best for your business.

By mixing social media with online advertising and PR efforts, you will be able to expand your business further than you ever imagined.

If you're a small, local business, you might want to take out ads in your local Shopper magazine or newspaper to reach your community, but you could also connect with them with a Facebook post or ad. If you look around in your shop, the grocery store, and even walking around in your neighborhood, you'll see many people have their heads down looking at their smartphones.

Spread your wings and try something new to determine what works best for your small business.

The bottom line is that people are on social media

It would be best to reach people where they spend their time. So, yes, social media can help small businesses with their marketing, PR, communications, and customer service by actively participating in the digital landscape.

There's no one better suited to tell your company's story and help people who have questions about your business or in your area of expertise.

Using social media can reduce your marketing costs by providing exposure to new people who find you through your social media posts.

How social media can help small businesses

  1. Reach more people
  2. Smaller budget than traditional marketing
  3. Target local customers
  4. Tell your story
  5. Highlight your customers
  6. Join your community online
  7. Support local partners

Social media works for local small businesses

Betsy, owner [and my amazing hair stylist] of B & B Style Salon, started posting on Instagram to share her salon and reach more people. Betsy loves doing wedding parties and posted wedding photos on Instagram. The local newspaper contacted her for a featured interview in their annual Bridal Guide which resulted in thousands of dollars of free advertising for her business.

If you're wondering how they found her, notice the hashtags at the bottom of the above Instagram post. Betsy used #bridalparty, #weddinghair, #weddingmakeup, #keene, and #keenenh, which are all searchable in the Instagram app. When the reporter from the Keene Sentinel was looking for information on Keene and weddings, B & B Style Salon's post popped up. Being strategic with her social media posts helped the right people find her post.

From Postplanner, “As you learn more about how to use social media for your small business, the social sites you should be on will become almost obvious to you.”

If you don’t have a clear understanding of which social networks to be on, here's how a few of them can work:

  • Facebook (be sure to set up the geotargeting)
  • Instagram (excellent for small businesses)
  • LinkedIn (like an international Rotary Club!)
  • Twitter (listening to the conversations on Twitter will provide valuable insight)

The good news is that you don't have to jump on all these social media platforms at once. Pick one that seems most likely to interest your current and prospective customers and focus on learning how to use it.

Instagram works for small businesses

Instagram is very hot right now with huge growth rates on the platform. Instagram might be a good start if you're unsure where to start.

This article will help get started on Instagram: Instagram 101: 7 Keys Steps to Instagram Success 

Once you decide which social networks you'll use — be sure to cross-promote that content in your other online marketing and PR pieces also!

More reading:

Unlock Facebook's Secret Blueprint for Successful Facebook Pages

How to Make a Splash on Twitter with Visual Marketing

Yelp reviews have scared small business owners

Yelp reviews have scared the heck out of small business owners and, in response, take an ostrich approach to the whole online world by hiding their heads in the sand. If people discuss your business online, you must be there to respond, help, and thank them.

Using social media can help balance a less-than-favorable Yelp or Facebook review by adding positive information about your company online. [More on Yelp for small businesses next week! – make sure to subscribe to the blog for updates]

I hope you've gotten a few ideas for using social media for your small business. It will take some time to learn, but the benefits can be financially rewarding for your business.

How to use Social Media for Small Business infographic from PostPlanner.com.

How to Use Social Media for Small Business

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