Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Snapchat. Periscope.  The social media options for small business owners can be overwhelming.  Which one do you choose?  Should you do them all? How can you effectively participate in social media and still run a business?  Is it even worth the effort to be on social media at all?  Trying to navigate the world of social media can be confusing any business of any size.  Below are tips on how small businesses can effectively use social media.

Know Where Your Customers Are

As a small business owner, you likely created some kind of small business marketing strategy, even if you only sat down and identified your target market and a budget to start. If you have an understanding of your target market, you can figure out where they’re getting their information from.  Do you see your customers on LinkedIn often? Do they have an active Facebook page?  Do you see tweets from their company in your own news feed?  Look at their websites and see where their active social channels are. After reviewing a few sites, you’ll get a good idea of where your typical client resides. Look for the common denominators and pick the top three channels to go after.  Only pick three.

Be Consistent in Your Social Activities

Social media only works if you work it. Consistency builds recognition and memorability. That’s why you only want to start with two or three channels tops to start.  You want to be consistently participating in these channels, building a voice, creating a presence, attracting a following.  To do that, you need quality, consistent messaging, so start conservatively, follow a good, sustainable cadence, and slowly build up your presence over time.

Don’t Just Talk About Yourself

The knee-jerk reaction is to get on social media and talk about your company.  While most certainly the end game is to get more clients, if all you do is talk about your company and what you want people to know about your services or products, you’ll quickly lose your audience.  This is content marketing 101:  instead of pushing out information that you want people to know about your company, provide the information people are looking for.  Provide tips, answer questions, link to articles that address your potential customer’s pain points. Think about who your audience is and what they’re looking for, then create engaging social content to create real brand advocates rather than just fans and followers.

Be Human

There’s a saying that people don’t buy from companies, people buy from people.  What that means is, people want to connect with their potential vendors on a more personal level, so put some personality into your social media efforts. Be funny, be serious, be controversial…whatever you want your brand to be, show some humanness behind your efforts.  Being real’ when building your brand in social media will help you make true connections with your fans and followers online.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

Pictures are visually attracting, and people love them. Tweets with images get more engagement. Same goes with Facebook, LinkedIn or Google Plus.  Take the time to find relevant, engaging images to add to your social media efforts. There are many great resources to get high quality images.  Take the time to find a resource or two that you can use for your efforts.  The extra few minutes it takes to attach an image to a post or tweet can make all the difference on whether people get engaged or not.

Use Tools for Efficiency and Measurement

There are lots of tools out there that can help you manage your social media efforts. You can manage all your social media accounts on one platform such as Hootsuite, Buffer or Social Oopmh.  Each offers unique features that will make your social media efforts efficient and effective. What’s more, most of these platforms offer the ability to measure your marketing activity, such as how many fans and followers you picked up, what the audience reach was for a certain audience and more.  Take advantage of these social media management tools; they’ll prove to be invaluable in your overall social media efforts.

Social media is a great way for small businesses to start their marketing efforts.  Use the tips provided, and you’ll find that social media marketing can be one of your more impactful, efficient and cost-effective marketing efforts that can grow your business.

Patty Hughes
Follow Us!