By Heather Lopez
In my day to day life, I constantly run into business owners who want to jump on the social media bandwagon, but have no idea how it relates to their business. Many business owners might be quite effective at the business end of things, but don't know how to use social media effectively. Here are a few quick tips I put together to aid entrepreneurs and small business owners in developing a social media presence.
1. Engage your followers and fans through questions that require a response.
On Facebook, comments weigh more than "likes" in the algorithm that determines what shows on the top of your newsfeed. When people comment and like, it shows up in their newsfeeds for their friends to see, which could expose you to even more potential new fans. Plus, fans appreciate the chance to interact with you and give you feedback. It builds their sense of brand loyalty. On Twitter, requiring a response to a question makes a follower reply using your handle. They usually reply publicly and share your handle with their followers, who might even want to answer the question too!
2. Don't just rely on third-party apps to post on your networks. Actually visit your profiles.
Visiting the networking sites can keep you in sync with others, while third-party apps can take you out of the network. You should not be looking at social media solely to sell your products and services, but as a way to connect with your customers in a more meaningful way. Third-party apps can help save time for posting, but it should not end with just posting.
3. Subscribe to Google Alerts using your keywords and daily notification.
It is a free service that lets you receive e-mails of other articles and info being shared on the web about those keywords. This will help you find some good content to share with your readers and followers. The readers and followers will appreciate the content (that you didn't even need to write). The writers may appreciate the shares and in the future, return the favor by sharing your content to their readers. Share the link with a brief description or title on your social media profiles.
4. Think collaboration and reciprocation.
Visit other business profiles who have a similar target audience, but do not compete, and ask them if they would be willing to share your info with their fans and followers if you would do the same in return. DO NOT visit their fanpage and post your links and fanpages on their wall if you don't know them or have not asked for permission. You could get marked as spam and suspended from Facebook. On Twitter, RT interesting items posted by others, and they might do the same. Thank those who RT your items. Think about how developing relationships with others could be mutually beneficial in gaining both of you new sales and customers.
5. Offer special exclusive deals for your fans and followers.
Fans and followers can turn into customers when you make them a special offer. Plus, they feel appreciated for engaging with you. Notice that I did not mention giveaways? Giveaways are okay, but you have to be careful that you are not attracting those who just enter contests. Your prize should be something that would only be valuable to someone in your target audience (i.e. not an IPAD or a vacation).
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should help give you a start if you implement the items consistently. In time, you will notice that your fans and followers will start sharing your profiles with others, building a strong word of mouth campaign (i.e. creating a buzz) that you don't even need to orchestrate.
Heather Lopez specializes in assisting and teaching small business owners and entrepreneurs how to connect with their customers via social media, branding, pr, marketing, and events. You can work with her personally during her next mastermind program starting 7/21. Sign-up by 7/7 and mention Market Mommy to receive a bonus 1 hour pre-mastermind session.