Small Business Social Media Management

What is Social Media Management?

When the internet was initially evolving, most of the information you could find about a product, service, or business was published by the product creator on a business website. Consumers would search for information, find product details or specifications, and use that information to determine which product or service to purchase.

The internet has developed over the past several years. Business websites are becoming more prominent but websites featuring user-generated content are becoming increasingly popular as well. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many others are giving individuals and businesses a place to connect with their current and potential buyers. Social media can have a strong impact on the way a business grows online.

When it comes to reaching out to our potential markets, most of us think of websites and print advertisements. We rarely, if ever, think about methods for making direct contact with our target markets. Social media marketing gives businesses the opportunity to add to the communications aspect of their marketing plans. Anyone with internet access can take advantage of social media networks to build connections and make information readily available to the public.

You’ll need to start your social media marketing campaign by choosing one or two of the most popular social media sites to focus on. There are dozens to choose from, but you should start with one or two and focus your efforts before adding others to your campaign. The most popular include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Delicious. After creating a profile on one of these sites, you’ll use it to make connections, to network with those interested in your product or services, to promote your products, and to gather customer feedback.

By now you’re probably wondering why you should invest your time on social media sites - sites you likely thought were for recreational purposes. The benefits are many. They include a surge of backlinks and traffic to your website, both from your social media networks and from those who post on their on blogs and websites. By creating profiles on social media sites, you’ll have the opportunity to target your market by only connecting with people who have some sort of interest in what you have to offer, reducing the amount of time and money you spend trying to find a focused group to talk to.

Let’s not forget the most important benefit - customer feedback. By putting yourself on social media websites you will be opening yourself up to public criticism. While the majority of your contacts will likely praise what you do, those who have had bad experiences are likely to speak up as well. These instances will provide you with the opportunity to address concerns, both publicly and privately, and will enhance your customer relations.

Social media marketing is an incredible online tool that should not be overlooked. Aside from a time investment, you will find that working with social media sites is a low-cost alternative to traditional marketing methods.

As the owner of an offline brick & mortar business, there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be taking advantage of the incredible marketing power of social media outlets. It's no secret that millions and millions of people are on social media sites daily. Did you know that social media is the second most time spent activity on the Internet only behind email checking? And did you know that if Facebook were a country it would be the third largest in the world?

What this means to any business, online or offline, is that there's a congregation of potential customers just browsing these sites in their idle hours when they might be bored and have nothing else to do. This is a perfect opportunity to drop a bee in their bonnet about you and your business. Thousands of companies have done this, and thousands have found success.

However, for an offline business attempting to tackle the social media market, you'll have an easier time of it if you approach it with the proper attitude. While both online and offline businesses will use social media as a way to engage the customer, the online business deals with social media the way that an offline business would have television ads. It's a straight way to the sale, since a customer visiting an online business' site is doing the closest thing to physically visiting the business itself.

If you have an offline business, this is not the case, as the customer is ostensibly at a computer and not at your physical place of business while browsing social networking sites. It's important to consider this difference and use it to take a different approach to advertising your offline business using social media. While an online business is bringing customers to the storefront, you should be looking to create an impression of your business and try to entice them to come to the physical store.

While it is definitely advantageous to consider making an online version of your site for ease of purchasing, you want to have the customer come to your physical store. This means creating awareness of your products, brand, content, and expertise, and creating that drive to experience the whole package by going to your store.

While it's likely that the most profitable way for an offline business to generate customers in terms of long-term revenue is still offline, the virtual market is taking off fast, and it's likely that the current state of affairs will change over the next five years. Now is a good time to get involved with marketing through social media and figuring out how it can best serve your offline business before it takes off to a whole new level.

There are literally thousands of articles online speaking about the importance of social media for online businesses. A simple Google search will likely turn up more information than anybody could want regarding how best to use Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for the purpose of online business, and these social networking sites are merely the tip of the iceberg. There are several other, lesser-known social media sites that can factor into the game for online businesses, as well.

It's obvious why social media sites are important for online business. It's a free, efficient way of marketing to the virtual crowd. After all, if your business is virtual, then it only makes sense that you should be advertising where the virtual populace goes to hang out and chat with friends.

However, many people mistakenly believe that social media need not factor much into the running of an offline business, and this is a serious mistake. Even if you own a store front with tangible products and physical shopping carts, you should still be meandering through the virtual crowd with the rest of the world.

Why? Even though your business might be physical, chances are that your customers are spending a lot of time on these social networking sites. If your store exists in the real world as well, working both the social media angle and the traditional means of advertising can give you a double edge over the competition, and that's not an advantage that should be glanced over lightly. Thousands of people do their shopping primarily online these days in the comfort of their homes, in order to have a chance of bringing some of that business through your physical door, you need to be working on the virtual side of things, as well.

So when you sit down in your store in the real world, don't forget to spend some time thinking about how you can promote your store in the virtual one. Most people have a foot in the physical and a foot in the virtual nowadays, and you have a serious advantage in being rooted in the physical world. Online businesses have no stake in the world outside of the Internet, but you can step into the virtual world with ease. Be sure to take advantage of this position you have as somebody who owns a physical store, and the benefits you'll reap will be incredible!

One of the biggest things that business owners of both online and offline enterprises struggle with is the issue of getting followers for their Twitter feeds and Facebook accounts. It's easy enough to sign up for these sites and get your profile set up.

But once it's set up and once it's ready to go, even once you have all your content planned out… then what?

This is where many people get stonewalled. They either end up trying to friend too many people or not enough, or can't seem to get their social media profiles off the ground and get those customers into the business.

Don't forget to advertise the fact that you're on social media sites at your physical store, too. A sign asking customers to follow you on Twitter might be better received than you originally thought. It's also good to start with your local base, because the more followers you have, the easier it gets to recruit other people to friend your profile or follow your feed.

Also, don't forget to keep your content interesting and fresh. Don't update every day if you don't have something to say.

Social Media marketing is one of the services that we provide… please give us a call.