When the average person thinks of a social media site, they immediately think of sites like Facebook and chatting with friends while playing games. While this is very true for most consumers, small business owners need to think of social media sites in a completely different way.
Social media has become to the advertising world what the Super Bowl used to be. Large corporations used to spend huge budgets to make sure their products were in front of the huge Super Bowl viewing crowd. However, with so many consumers spending at least a part of their day on sites like Facebook and Twitter, social media marketing has become the best way to get your product out in front of more people. The best part of this new marketing option is it can be done for free.
While there are many different social media sites out there, there are some sites that are a must have for most small businesses.
In the same way you have a personal account with Facebook you can create a profile page for your business. Unlike a personal page where people will "friend" you, customers will be able to "like" your business page. If you watch your own Facebook feed, you will see that when a person "likes" a business page, this is shared with all their friends. This is a great way to get your business out in front of more people.
Your Facebook business page also lets you promote specials to your customers, as well as contests. One local photography company offered a contest inviting all their fans to ask their friends to "like" their photography page. They told their fans that when their friend liked the page, to also post a comment saying who referred them. The fan who had the most referrals at the end of the designated time won a free photo shoot and package. This is a great way to gain customer referrals while offering current customers an incentive.
Twitter is a great way to build another online social media presence for your business. Sharing tweets about special offers, industry related articles or news, and even answering customer questions are all things easily accomplished through Twitter.
If your business is product or service specific, a great way to expose yourself to more possible customers is the use of what Twitter calls #hashtags. For example, if you are a business whose main product is a widget, then within every tweet you send out, use the #hashtag #widget. This will enable potential customers searching for #widget to find your tweets and follow you.
While most people think of YouTube as a great place to watch music videos or funny videos, it can also be an amazing marketing tool for your small business, especially if you are in the service industry. Creating a video, much like a mini commercial, allows you to talk to potential customers and tell them about your business and the services you offer. This gives the potential customer a more personal connection to you and they are more likely to contact your business over that of the competition.
LinkedIn is very similar to Facebook, but geared more toward business professionals. You create a profile page, can network with other business professionals in your industry, advertise and promote your product or services to other businesses, and join industry related groups. In many ways LinkedIn is like your local Chamber of Commerce on the internet.
MySpace has been beneficial for many businesses, though through the years it seems to have moved more toward the entertainment industry. If you are a business that offers products or services to the music, movie, television, or general entertainment industry, then having a business profile page on MySpace could prove very beneficial. It allows you to again get your business out in front of many potential customers.
While not all social media sites are a good fit for all small businesses, creating at least one social media presence is becoming a must for small business marketing. Give them all a try and see which site you find the most success with and run with it. You may find that by using social media you are able to greatly extend your marketing reach without having to increase your marketing budget