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Social Media Tips for Small Businesses – Part 1

By Sonjui L. Kumar and Bidisha Idnani Email By Sonjui L. Kumar and Bidisha Idnani
February 2015
Social Media Tips for Small Businesses – Part 1

An important concern for small businesses today is how to best leverage social media to obtain, engage, and retain a customer audience. The use of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram can be particularly beneficial. However, there is a fine line between appealing to customers and spamming them. In this article, we have compiled some tips that small businesses can utilize to appeal to their markets via social media.

Promote Your Use of Social Media.
This is one tip that business owners often overlook. The best way to build an audience on social media is to advertise it at your place of business and post links on your website. Many businesses display their Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and Instagram accounts by placing decals or signs in a window or near a cash register. Once a customer sees the sign or a link, they can instantly “like” or follow you, creating a lasting relationship from just one visit.

Create Incentives.
A vital piece of the social media pie is keeping customers engaged. Using giveaways, contests, and discounts is a relatively inexpensive way to advertise a particular product, service, or brand. When businesses create promotions that are solely directed toward their online followers, customers feel a sense of exclusivity, resulting in loyal customers checking in for the next opportunity. This strategy is not only for retail businesses, but is common for service based businesses that offer discounts to their followers online. As an added benefit, businesses can more easily obtain contact and demographic information from their prospective customers when they become followers.

Communicate with the Customer.
Social media is not just about advertising. Small companies can turn to social media for a variety of other purposes, particularly, communicating with customers. For example, companies can answer individual questions online or respond to negative feedback quickly and control the resulting damage. Answering questions, concerns, and complaints lets an audience know that the business is making an effort to improve and is committed to their customer experience.

Show Off Your Expertise.
Social media also provides a company an opportunity to demonstrate that it is current and active in its particular field. By sharing articles, posting opinions, and giving how-to tips, a company lets its audience know it is putting in the work to remain knowledgeable. Consultants and attorneys often answer questions or give advice on forums like LinkedIn Answers to establish their expertise. Linking forum posts to your company’s social media page can seamlessly engage prospective customers.

Don’t Overcommit.
Posting on social media can be a time consuming endeavor and it may be wise to pick one or two channels that best suit your audience. Although the most utilized, Facebook and Twitter are not for everyone. For example, companies that rely on visual images to sell their products prefer networks like Instagram and Pinterest. Those two forums are currently the best-performing social networks for marketers and generate more referral traffic for goods retailers, according to social media expert, Michael Grierson. Whichever site you choose, it is important to provide a steady stream of material, instead of sporadically posting on a slew of sites. “A brand page that looks like a ghost town with old content and unanswered questions from customers will do a business more harm than good,” says Grierson.

Before jumping into social media, it is imperative for small business owners to do their research. Pick the best platform that suits the company’s needs and provide customers a consistent amount of relevant and interesting information. Also, do not hesitate to expend resources on promotions or provide information free of cost. Compared to traditional advertising, engaging with your following on social media will prove to be far more affordable while providing a direct line to the customer.

Next month we look at when it makes sense to job out your social media marketing, and if so, how to choose the right vendor.

[Business Insights is hosted by the Law Firm of Kumar, Prabhu, Patel & Banerjee, LLC (KPPB).
SONJUI L. KUMAR is a founding partner in KPPB. Her areas of practice include general corporate law, complex commercial transactions, and trust and estate planning.
BIDISHA IDNANI is of counsel at KPPB. She was previously an Assistant Solicitor in Cleveland, Ohio.
Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice.]

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