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Things Small Business Should Know About Social Media Marketing Before They Start

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1. Social Media Is Not Free

Yes, setting up a twitter account, a Facebook page, a Google+ page, a Linked In page, etc… is all free. There are even free tools that can help you manage these things. But a successful social media engagement is going to require, well, your engagement. Creating useful content, following the conversations related to your industry, following the conversations about your brand, and replying to and communicating with your customers takes time. It takes a lot of time. Given that time equals money, social media takes a lot of money.

That said, with commitment, the time/money investment will pay off; but for it to do so, you have to know your objectives.

2. Know Your Objectives

There are three main ways social media marketing can help your business. It can:

  • increase your brand awareness.
  • build customer loyalty.
  • increase your sales by getting more people to purchase or use your service more frequently.

Knowing which objectives are most important to you will help you focus your online activities. If you want to increase brand awareness perhaps you will spend most of your time contributing to and participating in industry related conversations. Building customer loyalty might involve tweeting time sensitive discounts to followers. Increasing sales might require engaging channels outside the normal scope of your industry to reach new customers. Knowing your objectives will also help you measure your success. This is key to knowing if your marketing efforts are actually working.

Getting a good return on your efforts requires the general (but key) understanding that social media marketing is NOT like traditional advertising.

3. Social Media Is Not Like Traditional Advertising

Traditional advertising is about the hard sell; social media marketing is about building trust and relationships. Building trust and relationships is a decidedly human endeavour so it is much more important to be like a person than like a brand. Brands never shut up about how great they are and why you need them. People who act similarly are usually shunned and you will be too if you view social media as a soapbox for your brand. So what do you offer instead in order to build trust and relationships? Sincerity, humility, and value. 

If you come across a bad review or comment about your services, you do what ever it takes to make sure the complainer knows they were heard and you are sincerely attempting to make it right. If you come across someone who has nice things to say you humbly thank them and perhaps offer them a future discount to really blow them away. Even if people aren't necessarily talking about your product or service you can still push out related content that potential customers will be thankful for.

 

Image courtesy of seanrnicholson

 

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