In this era of social media overload, it might be hard to believe that getting your business live on social media will really make a difference.
No matter how successful your little shop is, there’s no way of knowing if you’ll ever reach a million likes on Facebook—for smaller communities, there’s no way of knowing if you’ll ever even reach a thousand.
However, as reported by Inc.com, likes aren’t your final goal. Facebook likes and favorites, retweets on Twitter, and followers on both are the means to an end, not your endgame goal.
Small businesses need social media for all the same reasons as large businesses do, but three- or four-fold. Building brand awareness, garnering and maintaining customer interest: these are things that every small business has to work at harder than ever to survive.
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Social media helps spread reach and lets you make announcements easily, doubling your efforts in a few keystrokes to build customer interest and engagement.
It lets you talk to loyal customers who haven’t been in the store for a while and let everyone watching know what you have planned. Announce holiday sales, make sure everyone knows your special winter business hours, and use every post to tell your customers and followers something new.
Whether you’re announcing the hookup of that new credit card processing terminal by Shopify—and if you didn’t accept credit cards for payment before, you definitely want to announce this—or the fact that the store will be closed on Memorial Day so you and your staff can participate in a volunteer effort, everything you post makes your business that much more interesting.
The reason people shop at small businesses is because they love supporting people like you and dreams like yours, they love knowing that the person in the big chair is a friend of the family or the community, and this makes social media even more important for you than for a big box retailer.
Use it to remind everyone that, no matter how successful you become, you’re still a normal person with your own traditions, goals and challenges.
This doesn’t mean using your store Facebook the same way you’d use your personal account, but small businesses have the benefit of being able to present a more candid, sincere image than larger companies can, even in the same industry.
Take advantage of it and keep people coming back to see what you’ve got in store today.
Another great aspect of social media is the ability to maintain professional relationships with relative ease. As stated by the Guardian, using social media properly gives you a powerful, cost-effective venue with which to engage with a veritable panacea of interested parties, from customers to other small businesses.
Having an active social media account gives customers a way to contact you 24/7, from almost anywhere in the world.
Whether they’re traveling abroad and want to ask about whether or not the leather bookbag they bought last month is waterproof or live right down the street and just want to say how much they love their new dress, they can use social media to do it.
Offering B2B support is also easier than ever with social media. Just liking the page or status of another small business you support creates the opportunity for your customers to interact with them, and theirs with you.
It also allows easy communication and interaction between businesses, public declarations of event support through the sharing and reposting of another business’s posts and tweets, and an easy way to advertise for each other. In small business, B2B relationships are an absolute must, so don’t pass up this opportunity just because Facebook might not be “your thing.”
Don’t Slow Down
There are plenty of other doors that maintaining an active social media presence can open for small businesses.
Unique marketing opportunities such as offering coupons in exchange for likes and public recognition for customer achievements related to your industry help build and maintain those relationships that you need to keep your business afloat.
Remember, though, that social media isn’t limited to Facebook and Twitter. Depending on your industry, setting up a Pinterest may be a necessity, allowing customers to “check in” on FourSquare may be the best way to get online interaction started, and signing up for Tumblr may be the best way to communicate with your target demographic.
And don’t forget your own business blog! BlogTyrant states that, regardless of what else rolls around, this is still your most important social media tool.
When it comes to social media, the sky’s the limit—and there’s a platform for every industry and every business. You don’t have to sign up for all of them, of course, but figuring out which ones will work best for you and your business is key to getting the kind of online exposure that you want and your business deserves.
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