I remember when blogs were new. I didn’t like them and didn’t think they would last. “The CB radio of our time,” I thought.
OK, got that one wrong.
The point is, better late than never, eh? The same is true for social media. While it obviously is becoming a significant force in the small business world and is not going anywhere, the most recent stats I have seen indicate that many small business people have yet to see the light: 36% of small business owners say that they use social networking sites to market their business, compared to just 19% a year ago. (Source: Small Business Trends.)
That means that 64% of small businesses still are not using social media and that’s a shame. Social media offers small businesses a multitude of benefits including the ability to build their brand, to become a thought leader, and to find leads. But most of all, social media is the word of mouth advertising of the 21st century, and we all know that word of mouth advertising is the best, right?
Here’s what I mean: When you tweet something and one of your followers retweets it to their followers, that is word of mouth gold. When your fan page is liked and new people see that their friends like your page, that is social media magic. And when someone forwards your blog post on to their network, that is word of mouth today.
So if you are one of the 64% who is not taking advantage of this incredible opportunity, I am talking to you: Resolve to make 2012 the year you rectify that situation and begin to use social media to your benefit.
First, decide which site best fits your style while also offering you the chance to get in front the most potential customers. It is best to dive in deep with one site, rather than being negligible on three. Your choices are (of course):
- Facebook. Facebook is a great place to connect with people and informally share updates. Because it is in fact so informal and easy to connect there, and since so many people are on the site, it is the first choice for many small business people.
- Think of Twitter as an ongoing conversation which you can join at any time. The connections and interactions are different than Facebook since tweets are shorter and have a shorter shelf-life than a Facebook status update.
- LinkedIn is a fantastic site to grow your network of colleagues.
Next, if you haven’t already, build a business profile for the site you choose to master. After that, it is a matter of getting your feet wet and then really learning and using the platform.
The important thing, I suggest, is that you be a giver and not a taker. That is, offer content that other people would find interesting and useful. Don’t just post about you and your business. Posting articles and content that customers or others in your industry would find interesting gets you noticed. Other things you could do:
- Post daily or weekly specials
- Share business or industry news
- Network. It is also called social networking for a reason.
Social media is an incredible opportunity for growing a business. Consider making it part of your marketing mix in 2012.