Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy. Small businesses make up the majority of businesses in the United States and employ about half of public sector workers. So, obviously small businesses are quite important. There are many instruments for the success of small business. For now, we’re going to focus on social media and small businesses.
With so many people now active on social medias, they are a great target for advertising, which can be done in a variety of ways. Luckily for business owners or operators, social media is cheap and easy to utilize and their intentions have the capability to reach a mass number of people. Much of this article will be oriented towards the use of Facebook to advance your company, but don’t let that deter you from other social medias. Twitter, Google, Yelp, etc. are great alternatives that many companies benefit from.
Invite your personal friends to like your business’s page
A great way to get your page started (if that is the media you choose) is to refer your friends or followers on your personal page to that of your small business. Once they start liking the page, others will see that it is available and your viewership should increase.
Building the page
Remember, one purpose of your social media presence is to portray your business as friendly and social. But, another purpose is to relay good, true, and useful information to your customers or potential ones. A good profile picture is a picture of the whole staff under a business sign or a nice picture of your building or office. Logos are okay, but aren’t very personal.
It should go without say that you need to include the basic information about your business. Outline the services or goods that your small business offers in the page description. Most social media websites have preset dedications to place business hours and addresses (if applicable to your type of company).
Depending on the type of small business you operate, you may or may not want to include a phone number. If you typically use a telephone to communicate with customers, obviously this is a good idea. But if, for instance, you run an e-business, it may be less necessary and may only result in unnecessary or spam calls.
If you have a dedicated company website definitely provide a link to that on your social media page. If your business is a restaurant, post a menu. Tailoring your page to your individual genre of business should be fairly straight-forward; don’t overthink it.
Offer incentives to customers who follow, share, or check-in with your social media(s)
This is another good pathway to increasing the number of people who will see the activity of your small business. Incentives are much more effective means than simply putting up a “Like us on Facebook!” sign.
For instance, when I visited a local storefront to have the cracked screen on my phone replace, they offered a 5% discount on the service if I checked it. Checking in allows friends to see the name, location, and likely the type of good or service that are offered. The phone repair shops tactic was great because it was mutually beneficial. I got a discount for minimal effort on my side, and they just shared their information with my 300-plus friends at a minimal loss (5 dollars on a $100 service).
Even if mediocre discounts aren’t your style you could even let your customer know that dates of sales are posted on the page (as long as they actually are, do not lie!). The incentive that they are notified of future sales is less than an immediate discount. But, it is still an incentive. Keep an open mind and consider what incentives will work for your company, and then implement them!
Set a frequency goal
My advice: use your social media page almost religiously. The optimal frequency of posts will vary based on the type of business you run and the personal culture of the business. But, I would recommend that most companies post at least once daily. Whatever frequency you think will work best for you and your business, remember it and live by it. I have seen many small business post frequently when they first start the page and then it slowly dies down; don’t let this be you. Set your goal and try your absolute hardest to meet it.
Keep variety in mind
I follow a small family owned pizzeria that posts nearly the same thing every day: a picture of a pizza coming out of their oven and a short message that usually says something along the lines of, “Yes, we are open today 12pm-9pm. Come and see us!”
While they are letting all their followers that they are open and reminding them that they are an option for lunch or dinner, they run the risk of becoming monotonous. When posts are repetitive viewers’ brains often skip over them unconsciously because they know that they have seen it before and no new information is readily available.
The other risk present is that followers become annoyed with the repetition and unlike or unfollow the page. This loses you viewership. A loss of viewership loses you customers. Losing customers results in loss of potential revenue. And loss of revenue will end with the loss of your small business that you worked so hard to build. Yikes!
If you are having a hard time brainstorming new content for your small business social media page, consider introducing an “employee spotlight” periodically, if that applies to your business. Just a nice, brief description of one of your employees, along with a picture. That gives a testimonial or example of how they met or exceeded customers’ needs and wants. Customers tend to have a more positive view of a company if they see that owners and managers appreciate and value the staff members. Another option is use social media to introduce a new product of limited time offer.
Compare and contrast
A good practice is to look at social media pages of competing companies. While many small business owners want nothing to do with their competition, evaluating their performance and comparing and contrasting it to your performance can provide you with useful information. In terms of social media utility, examine their page. Is it similar to the page of your company?
Decide when to delegate
If you lack the time or aren’t social media savvy, consider delegating it to an employee who excels in the area. An additional option is to locate and employ a “social media ambassador.” Larger companies have a dedicated worker who does nothing but this. However, small businesses will more likely benefit more from using a service or a freelance worker to do the posting for fairly cheap.
Evaluate the effectiveness of your social media efforts
As will all areas of business, it is good practice to measure how effective your efforts have been. In traditional business, this is easy to do: compare revenue or profits to what they were beforehand. However, it is a little more difficult to measure how your company’s social media presence is effecting business. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is my company noticeably busier than it was before I took advantage of social media?
- Have customers mentioned anything about my social media presence?
- How many of my customers or clients follow the business’s page? What percentage is this of my total clientele?
- Does the page that I dedicated for my business offer both sociality and useful information about my company? What can I do to integrate the two?
- Have the incentives that I have offered been taken advantage of by customers? Why or why not? Are the incentives reasonable to both me and customers?
- Have I met or exceed the frequency goal that I set for social media posts? Do my posts have decent variety? If not, what new ideas can be brought in and who can cheaply but effectively bring them?
Again, social media is a generally effective and reasonably cheap way to market your business to many people at a time. If you aren’t using it for your small business, you should be. Large scale social media websites will benefit almost any company, but don’t forget about niche oriented medias, such as Urban Spoon for restaurants or Trip Adviser for hotels or tourist activities.
Research social medias that specialize in the marketing of your type of small business and consider whether or not they will optimally benefit you and your business. Then, execute your decision quickly.
Remember to keep your business’s page up to date; viewing a page that hasn’t posted in 9 months (or any relatively long period of time) may lead viewers to believe that you are no longer in business. That being said, don’t over post if you find you are being repetitive. We appreciate you taking the time to read our article. We wish you luck in establishing and mastering the use of social media for your small business. Get started!