How To Grow Your Small Business Using Social Media


Are you a small business owner researching ways to grow your business? Would you like to attract more leads to your small business, or have heard about Facebook marketing, and now want to try it?

As a small business owner you face many challenges - limited capital, minimal support and having too much to accomplish in what seems like short amount of time. So, how do you expand your small business without heavy purchase of marketing and advertising? Answer - by making use of technology. Web 2.0 offers you various tools and techniques which help you to generate leads and increase the exposure of your home-based business. Social media is one such tool. Here's all you need to know as a small business owner to start increasing revenues using social websites.

What is Social Media?
Social Media is a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online. For example Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, GooglePlus, and MySpace.

Precisely what is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is applying the above mentioned platforms to succeed in a new audience of customers and create product brand awareness. By spreading word of an product from user to user, Social media strives to gain greater legitimacy for any message because it is shared between trusted "friends."

Which Social Media Channels are hottest?
Studies show that Facebook & Twitter are hottest social media channels followed closely by YouTube and LinkedIn, GooglePlus.

How is it that Social Media Marketing Interest me?
If you believe this kind of Marketing isn't for you, think again. These platforms offer a large bundle of advantages to small business owners. Below are a few reasons why you should consider using Social media marketing for your business.

Exposure: As a small business owner you rely largely on network marketing to channel contributes to your business - which, consequently relies on your interaction with others. This is the core notion of what Social Media is! But Social websites offers virtually unlimited the opportunity to interact with people - countless them! With this interesting type of marketing, your business is will no longer limited to local leads; you'll find leads coming in coming from a diversified geographic market!

Zero-cost: While other marketing media can be expensive, this type of marketing is relatively free, or requires negligible monetary investment. It's really a great low-cost way to get your message across.

Improved web site: Being on popular social networking platforms strengthens your web presence. The more people talk about you on Facebook or Twitter, the higher are the chances of your organization being found on relevant web searches like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing.

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Direct contact with prospects: These platforms provide you with with your customers directly. You'll have one-on-one contact with them, determine what they really want.

Go viral: Such marketing gives you the opportunity to go viral along with your marketing. Think about this. You put up a video relating to your business on YouTube. 10 people enjoy it, and five of which share it using friends, who in-turn share it with 20 the best way to. This is known as "viral marketing," this means you will be a very effective solution to increase your lead generation.

What is a Social Media "game plan" and thinking about have one?
A social networking game plan is a process including a few simple steps to help you achieve your social media objectives. The social media arena is large and you'll get lost in it should you not play by the rules. There are plenty of competition and you have to experience a clear plan if you need to stand out of the crowd and get noticed.

Your ideal Social media marketing game plan
A typical idea for your business should include these four steps

Build your network
Propagate your presence
Keep in touch

Step 1 - construct your network: The first step is to search for and add those users to your network whom you think fall under your target audience segment. When locating a request to add users to your network, it is always better to accompany such requests with a personalized message. You may also look for and join groups that pertain to your line of business. As an example, if you are a business selling Health drinks and other health-related products, you could join groups where topics like nutrition, diet or health are discussed. Such groups provide you audience for the products you have to offer. However, when in a group, do remember to incorporate VALUE. Answer questions that you will be equipped to answer, actively be involved in discussions, be subtle and aggressively "push" your products.

Step 2-propagate: The next thing is to announce your Social websites presence. You can do this with the addition of links to your social websites pages on your website, e-mail signature line or newsletter, for those who have one. You are around with your business-announce it!

Step 3-stay connected:Another step is to stay connected with your fans and group members. Facebook marketing initiative is easy to begin, but requires effort to keep up. And like many networking efforts, answers are usually not immediate. Acquire permission from group members while others on your network to send e-mails. You can then e-mail relevant happy to people on your network. The main element here is to send RELEVANT, VALUE ADDING content-not a commercial of your products/services. If you are a health-drink selling company who's also a part of the diet and nutrition group, you can send links including '10 Best Anti-Oxidant Rich Fruits' and then perhaps add a graphic and some information about your product, encouraging people to speak to you if they're interested. This process will be better-received than just sending the prospects an e-mail flyer totally committed to your product.

Dos and Don'ts
While social networks are all about human interaction and should not be strait-jacketed, here are some tips that can come in handy.

What you should do?
Improve the value of your contacts: Always increase the value of your contacts. Always! Provide them valuable information, tips and other interesting facts that they can use. For example, Jane, a home-based company owner sells health drinks and weight loss products. So, it seems sensible for her to provide the wedding guests with interesting articles on the subject of weight loss.

Be consistent in your online participation: It's not at all a one-time effort. It's about building a relationship... and relationships take time. Be consistent in your social networking communication. Have an interesting tweet/post/update at the very least every day. In some few cases, multiple postings per day are even better-but don't forget rule#1-add value. Your posts shouldn't sound like pointless ramblings or advertisements of the product/service.

Pay attention to what's being discussed: When you have joined a forum or even a group, actively take part in relevant discussions. Make use of your specific, professional knowledge to assist others. Contribute to add depth and dimension to a discussion.

Conversation is the vital thing: As mentioned before, social media marketing endures relationships. To build a solid relationship with your prospects, you should engage in a conversation using them. Maintain a 2-way communication between both you and your audience. Take genuine fascination with what they have to say and comply with comments or observations that are made.

Thoroughly know the subject you are talking about: Position yourself as an expert on these platforms. But make certain you know what you're talking about. Research if you aren't sure of something. Mistakes on these platforms spread quickly and damage the reputation of your business.

Personalize your interaction: It's advisable to personalize your interaction using your audience. Inquire about a celebration or occasion posted on the Wall, such as a recent trip, or "like" the holiday pictures on Facebook.

Portray your individuality: The largest advantage small business owners have over large corporations would be the fact they are much smaller and haven't lost that real-person feel. Let your audience know the person behind the company. Make sure your interactions will include a personal side!

React to your customers' grievances ASAP: Are you aware that 88% of customers say unanswered complaints on social media sites deter them from doing repeat business? And deleting customer complaints is even worse! So make sure you resolve your customer's complaints on social networking platforms immediately. Even if you can't resolve them, at least respond so that they know they're being heard. Acknowledge everything.

Mention your Social websites presence: Advertise your profiles. Always provide links to your social media profile with your website, blog, e-mails as well as print materials. For websites and blogs, you ought to add Facebook and twitter widgets which provide a live feed of what's happening on your Facebook/twitter page, immediately on your website or blog. Provide incentives or value adding information such as whitepapers or articles to be able to encourage people to follow you on social media sites!

Monitor & moderate: Monitor your social media presence. Find out where your name's springing up online and in what context many experts have used. A Google alert is the simplest way to do this, though there are many free tools available on the internet to monitor your web presence. Remain in-control of your social media pages. Read what other people are putting up on your page and respond promptly.

Syndicate your Social Media content: Content creation needs time. So why not make the most of this content you have? Post your posts on all popular social media sites and don't hesitate to re-use them. Turn your site post into a link and set it on Facebook. Morph it into a video and help to increase YouTube and Facebook or transform it into a presentation and put it to SlideShare. The aim is to get maximum exposure for your content.

What you should not do?

DON'T overtly push your products/services: Social websites is a platform

that you build relationships, to create value. It's NOT an advertising venue. Your audience

will shun you if all that you talk about is the stuff you sell. Think about it, would you talk to your family

and friends in regards to the products you sell constantly? Of course not! Then don't treat your

social media marketing audience any differently.

DON'T spam your contacts with pointless updates: OK, now you added two services to your line-up. While it is good to share the news, don't spam your contacts with ads. Offered a link to the new product selection; monitor who is interested and share information on a need-to-know basis.

Do not have grammar and spelling errors in your posts: You are a small company out to create an impression. Don't spoil it through spelling and grammatical errors. Use spelling/grammar checking tools, but never rely solely to them. Proofread your posts before putting them up online. If spelling or grammar isn't your strong suit, have somebody else proofread your work before it goes out

DON'T fail to respond to requests for help in your area of expertise: An advanced part of a group or forum, seize every possiblity to display your expertise. Avoid being a wallflower-actively participate in discussions.

Don't allow your profile get stale: Make sure your profile is frequently updated and that you offer something new. One mistake many small business owners make is creating social media marketing profiles and then disregarding them. Your social media efforts have to be on-going to deal with results.