Social Media for Rookies

Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Vine, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare, Yelp, Gryzzl (OK, that one is fictional): there is always something new to remember. It may seem easier to avoid jumping on the train and instead take a nap in the train station. Or it may be tempting to use these free social platforms to market your business and neglect a proper website.

As endless as the platforms may seem, there is a good middle ground to successfully market your small business online. You just have to view social media platforms as what they are: a marketing tool to reach out to potential and current customers and bring them to your business.

 

Here are a few tips to help you navigate the online social realm:

Pick Your Platform

Pick Your Social Media Platform FlowchartThere is no need to get your business on every social network that pops up. If you do so, you’ll be spread so thin trying to stay on top of online marketing that you won’t have time left to focus on what’s important: running your business. Which platforms you choose is based entirely on the type of business you have.

Every business should be on two specific social networks: Facebook and Google. Why?

Although teens may not find Facebook as cool as their parents and grandparents, their parents and grandparents are likely your target audience and they use it – A LOT. Plus Facebook now offers in-depth audience metrics and targeting advertising.

Although Google attempted to get into the social networking game, where businesses really need to focus is their Google Places for Business page. Once set up, it gives you a free listing for your business that will appear on Google Maps and search results. People can use their Google accounts to leave reviews of your business that appear as star ratings on search results.

Facebook Etiquette

Facebook users share news and personal events with their collection of online friends. They “check in” to businesses and interact with brands regarding their experiences with products and services.

  1. Create a Facebook page, not a profile.
  2. Use the Facebook page as if it were a customer service representative.
  3. Share relevant content you didn’t create when it is appropriate to engage customers.

Google Places Best Practices

Your Google business listing may be the only source of information potential customers see before they give you a call or, if you have a physical location, drop by your shop. Google allows you to upload your logo, add product images, post your business hours and respond to reviews. Fill in as much information as possible to make it as easy as possible on your potential customers.

Drive Users Back to your Website

Facebook and Google are free, but you should not be using it as your business’ only presence online. Why? EvolutionaryIT gives a few reasons. First, social media sites can be described as “walled gardens,” meaning they don’t want users to leave. Your website is completely under your control with the ability to deliver the exact message exactly the way you want to deliver it. Social media platforms are constantly changing their terms of service and the way they display information for users. As one person put it, “… are you kidding, and turn my brand over to Facebook? I might as well be turning it over to an authoritarian sovereign state …”

Instead, Forbes magazine posits that “the answer will be for organizations to use their websites as the hub of their electronic and mobile business and their reputation, and then use social media company pages as spokes, exploiting each platform for its unique benefits and audience.”

Done properly, social media will drive new customers to your business and keep you connected with your current customers.

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