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In my last post, I discussed different ways to use social media for personal and entertainment reasons. I had explained how time-consuming social media activities could be, and that in order to not have your time sucked up, you need to select only the social media most conducive to your needs.
This week, I want to talk about using social media for business purposes. Women have a very strong presence on the internet, and many of us have small businesses we want to promote. But before I get into what social media you should be using, I want to share the benefits of a business using social media.
20 Reasons Your Small Business should Use Social Media
- Branding – Create a recognizable identity for your product or service. This is extremely important for a small business.
- Create a buzz – Get the word out about your products and services in a way that promotes online conversation.
- Online reputation management – Keep an eye on what other people and sites are saying about your name, company, or brand online – and fix any problems, if need be.
- Establish yourself as an expert – Use forums and message boards to answer questions professionally, honestly, and correctly, which will earn you respect as an expert in your niche. People will look to you for answers.
- Word of mouth – Customers need to trust before purchasing – people trust their friends and loved ones more than anyone else. So, if they hear from someone trustworthy about your product, chances are higher that they’ll buy. Market your products using word of mouth virtually.
- Build relationships and become more personal – Use a variety of social media, and you’ll build relationships with customers and potential customers. Trust comes through honesty and sincerity.
- Open up the line of communication between business owner and millions of potential customers – Millions of people who could possibly become customers? You could not have this easily in the offline world.
- Small businesses can compete with the large companies – In the past, this was very difficult with the advertising and marketing budgets of large companies. With the right type of viral social media, you could get an immense amount of traffic with quickly-growing natural links, and keep traffic coming for a long time.
- Social networking with potential clients and customers from all over the globe – With social networking sites such as Facebook, StumbleUpon, MySpace and Twitter, among many, many others, you can hold personal conversations with each of your customers. Tell them about new products, sales and coupons, suggestions and tips – the topics are endless.
- Get great traffic – Not only great traffic…. but freakishly crazy amounts of traffic. For example, if one of your items becomes viral and makes it to the front page of Yahoo Buzz (a social news site), it could get you 100,000 to 1,000,000 viewers; from Digg around 2,000 to 60,000; and from Reddit around 2,500 to 30,000. Check out some more awesome stats on this great post by The SEO Company.
- Increase your link-ability – One way to move up in the search engines is to have links from other sites pointed to your site. Natural links – or links that come naturally to your great post, awesome video, or amazing picture, are the best kind for your business. They’ll not only bring in traffic, but should also help move you up further in the search engines.
- Helps with search engines – Like I mentioned above, social media helps you move up in the search engines because of links. Many social news sites and social networking sites have “do follow” links in their profile pages. Every time you create a profile with your blog, they will be sending link juice to you – in other words, it’s telling Google your blog is worthy of a mention. Link juice from a quality site = higher ranking in the search engines.
- Much cheaper than traditional marketing and advertising – Social media marketing shouldn’t cost a small business nearly as much as traditional advertising. And, if you do it yourself, it might not cost a dime. However, it will cost you time. Depending how much your time is worth, it might be worthwhile to hire someone to help with the social media marketing. But, all in all, social media marketing is just a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and advertising.
- Your company is more accessible – An accessible company means a more trustworthy company.
- Direct conversation to a specific niche – There are so many social networking, social bookmarking, and social news sites that are dedicated to specific niches. You have the ability to speak directly to these people and not have all the other noise of unrelated topics getting in the way. If you are speaking their language, you have a better chance of them actually hearing what you are saying – and you’re getting the RIGHT KIND of following.
- Provides another way for potential customers to find you – If you’re not high enough in the search engines for potential customers to find you, they can still find you through social media. So, even if you’re not on the front page of Google, it doesn’t mean you can’t receive traffic. Social Media has the potential to send you TONS of traffic – when done properly (I’ll write more on that soon!).
- It’s a way to explain yourself – One of the reasons some businesses are skiddish about social media is because they’re afraid of negative comments. It’s possible to receive negative comments. But, social media provides the platform to explain, to make things right. The fact of the matter is – if someone has something negative to say they can say it. Ignoring them doesn’t stop the damage. But, when you reply, you are seen as a business owner who cares, who wants to make the customer happy, and that you’re human. Social media is a two-way conversation, so go ahead and defend yourself – just do it proactively.
- Show Your Stuff – Universal Search is pretty new. Google used to only list links on their main page. They had videos, but you would have to click on the video search link. They had images, but you had to click on the images search link. Now, with Google Search, everything appears on the same page. Let’s say you were searching “ballerina” – video and picture results appear on the same page as the page result. So, your product images could rank, just like your actual site. This is awesome, and something business owners should take advantage of.Universal Search Visual Example
- Find out exactly what your customers want – Social media is amazing in so many ways, as you can see from the last 18 reasons. But, what is so cool is that you don’t have to wonder what your customers want. You want to know what they want? Ask them on social media, and they’ll tell you.
- Your customers can play an active role in the business – Instead of focus groups, let your customers play an active role in your business. Let them offer suggestions, let them share their likes and dislikes – all on social media. You might find yourself ideas for new products and services you’d never have without them.
Bottom line – marketing is about getting out the word, engaging in conversations, taking suggestions, problem solving, educating your audience, and promoting your company, product, or service. One of the best ways for small businesses to create buzz is through social media.
In the next several posts, I’ll elaborate on the “how-tos” of participating in social media as a small business marketing tool.