How to use social media to grow your business

Despite the title above, the truth is that all businesses – from solopreneurs to mega corporations – need to figure out how to make social media work for them. Even if you’ve been a longtime Facebook user, you might still feel unsure about how to move from personal use to leveraging that platform to market your business.

That uncertainty is completely natural. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not a digital native. Regardless of whether or not you were born with a cellphone in your hand, everyone can use a primer on how social media marketing for business and personal use are two very different beasts.

social media marketing

What is social media?

Like its name suggests, a social platform is a place where we can connect with people who like the same things we do. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat … those are just a few examples (and probably the most well known) of social media platforms. New ones pop up every year. Some shoot to the heights of popularity quickly only to fall out of favour before the year is out.

What does being social for business mean?

Social media is a very large umbrella under which a whole lot of possible networking sites exist.

Yes, all social media platforms are essentially networking sites. They serve as a digital space where users can meet, discuss whatever they want, conduct business, share resources and knowledge, and maybe even choose to move that connection offline and into the real world.

Social media includes:

  • video sharing (ex. YouTube)
  • photo sharing (ex. Flickr; Instagram)
  • blogging (personal or business; ex. WordPress; Blogger; Tumblr)
  • social networking (ex. Facebook)
  • business and education collaboration tools (ex. Google docs; Basecamp)
  • user review sites (ex. Yelp; Trip Advisor)
  • micro-blogging (ex. Twitter)
  • business social pages (ex. LinkedIn; Facebook business pages)
  • social bookmarking (ex. Pinterest)

There are so many possible social media channels for you to choose. But, deciding on which might be best for your business marketing is actually pretty easy.

You need to be where your customers are. Do they belong to a demographic that prefers Facebook? Or are they world travellers who love contributing to social review sites?

Business intelligence in social media

Perhaps the most important take-away is that etiquette is as important in the digital sphere as it is in everyday life (even though it doesn’t seem so at times!).

As a business, there are rules governing appropriate interactions between employee and employee, employee and customer, employee and supervisor, and even customer and customer. We expect the same kind of respectful behaviour from the people and business we follow on social media sites.

Most social media users do not appreciate a hard sell. Think of it this way: when you’re in a retail outlet, you expect the salesperson to approach you, ask you what you’re looking for, and perhaps even sell you a product or service.

Now, imagine a salesperson engaging you in that way while you’re outside enjoying a peaceful stroll through the park. Weird, right?

The social space gives business owners the opportunity to learn about their customers’ likes, dislikes, problems, and successes. As a business owner in that social community, you can champion and support other users. The point is to be an active and positive presence within the digital community. That’s how you build social recognition and a positive reputation. Every so often (yes, there’s a formula for this) let other users on that platform know about what you sell, any relevant products or services, and current or upcoming sales. When your followers are ready to buy whatever product or service you sell, they will likely think of you.

Benefits of social media for business

You’re likely already spending time and money on marketing. Why should you add social media to the mix?

Well, if that’s where your cutomers spend their time, you should be there, too. They may not see your other marketing efforts. If your budget is already stretched thin, it’s time to take an honest look at your business marketing strategy. Just because you’ve always purchased a particular ad, it doesn’t mean you should continue to do so. Figure out what’s no longer working and move on.

The beauty of social media marketing for business is that you can do it yourself. Sometimes, that’s the best course of action because you know your product or service best. Or perhaps you have a unique way of speaking that your customers really like.

Apart from marketing your product or service, being active on social media allows you to accomplish a lot, including driving traffic to your website and personalizing customer service.

DIY or hire?

Designing and implementing a social media strategy takes some time and effort. But, doing it all on your own is possible … to a point.

For small businsses – where owners already do pretty much everything themselves, being active on social media can be relegated to a few hours a day. If you happen to have a teenager at home who already spends a significant amount of time in the digital universe, hire them to run your social media marketing campaign for you.

You will reach a point, however, when your business grows to a point that managing a social media strategy becomes untenable. That’s the time to start considering hiring a social media specialist. Whether you opt for freelance or in-house, part-time or full-time, look for a social media specialist who will listen to your business goals and help you work toward them while keeping within your budget limits.

Wondering how to set up and run a social media strategy for your business? Let’s talk.

 

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