There are a multitude of options available for using social media for small business. The problem is obviously not in finding a platform to use, it is in finding the RIGHT platform (or several) to use for your business.
Why Use Social Networking at All?
It all about 'Having Conversations'...
But first of all, an introduction to social networking and why you should even be considering it as an option for your marketing mix.
The majority of social media networks are free, the only investment by you is your time, and yes, I know that is a valuable asset too, that is in limited supply.
Social media gives you the opportunity to actually interact and better understand your marketplace. It is not the place to 'shout' your message at the top of your voice.
Think of it just like the networking you do in the flesh at business lunches, seminars and trainings. You want to learn about people's problems, engage with them and create a connection. It is through these 'conversations', that involve listening as well as communication that you engage people. The same is now possible online; you can actually listen to what your audience wants and build and contribute to a community.
Obviously there is also space for promoting new products, exclusive specials and the like, but the key is in the reasoning behind humans having two ears and only one mouth. Do some listening and get the edge on your competitors by getting a better understanding of what your market wants.
Part of understanding your market is working out where it is that they 'hang out' online. Are they web savvy using Twitter, more socially active and logging into Facebook daily. It is not where YOU hang out that matters, but where your untapped clients and customers are, that you need to be taking a closer look at.
The most relevant Social Media platforms to currently consider for small business are-
Like any marketing activity, tracking is essential, as is giving it a bit of time. Social networking needs in the space of 12-18 months in order to develop a loyal community and to allow people to get to know you. Many social networking activities can be automated to save you time. If I write an article on my website, it gets fed through my RSS Feed to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all with one click, so I am essentially posting in 4 places at one time.
Your home website needs to act a base for your networks- keep it current, add new material. Ultimately this is where you want your social activities to all funnel into.
Choose just one of the social networking platforms to start with, all you need to invest is a little bit of time to understand how it can work as a tool for your business. Financially you have little to lose, but potentially a whole lot to gain.
All you need to do is start..