If you own a small business it means that your marketing budget is going to be small; smaller than the big companies who can hire full departments of marketing and research people just to make sure that they are reaching their target market. This is just not the case with small businesses where time and money are extremely precious. That being said, there are now platforms such as social media which small businesses can use to their advantage either for free or for a small price.
In some cases maintaining a social media page is a job in and of itself. If a small business can’t afford to hire someone whose focus is social media and marketing, then it becomes a question of how to best use the time you do have to reach as many people as possible, thus marketing your company. There are a number of social media platforms that are available and here is the skinny on each.
The first question you need to ask yourself is do you have a website. If your business does not have a website or online presence of any kind there is simply no point in using social media, because you will have nowhere to send the searchers who are looking for your company. Having a Facebook page as your only online presence is insufficient and really quite pointless. So first things first, in order to engage with online users, a small business needs its own website. Then it also needs its own Google+ page.
Only once these are in place can you begin to think about social media maximizing your engagement with your online users. As a company you should have a LinkedIn profile. This isn’t quite social media for your users, it is rather like a CV for your company online and a great way to build networks and for people to search for your company. The key however is to keep your profile up to date.
It is a good idea for a small business to have a blog, and you can use social media in order to publicise your blog posts. Facebook is an invaluable tool for small businesses that are consumer directed or a local business. It is relatively easy on time, and it is easy to update and maintain. It should only take a few minutes out of your day to put up a post on Facebook, and you can have notifications sent to your email so you only log in when you need to. It’s a great way to engage with online users one on one.
If, however, your small business is driven by product or the visual then Pinterest is for you. Pinterest allows you to build a visual online presence that is aesthetically pleasing. Imagine it as a kind of picture board where you post images and quotes and other things that relate to your company. Once users have found your Pinterest page, you want to direct them to your website. It is too easy to spend a lot of time playing on Pinterest, so be careful not to get sucked in.
Twitter is not the best thing for small businesses. The best thing about a Twitter account is its immediacy and in a small business you simply don’t have time to tweet all the time. That being said, it can be good for restaurants and similar industries but otherwise it isn’t the best social media tool for engaging with online audiences.
The key really is to find a balance between the time it takes to update the social media pages and its effectiveness, and you will have to be the judge of what works and what doesn’t. There is another online resource that can be a great way to engage with online users and that is mailVU. mailVU is an amazing video platform that allows you to incorporate videos for marketing. You can record and embed videos on your website and on your other social media pages. You won’t need to make many videos, but a video does really engage your users in a way that written content simply doesn’t. It is a good idea to spend the initial time it will take, and then use the video to direct traffic back to your own website. There are a few social media platforms that are best for small businesses. The focus needs to be directing people to your site, and to be interested in your product, how you use mailVU, Twitter or Pininterest, is entirely up to you.
This has been a guest post by Nick Anderson, a writer for How2become; a leading career and recruitment specialist.