Social Networking for Business Growth
Networking is an essential part of growing any business. Only a decade ago, this often included going out into a local community areas and events to promote products and services, interact with new customers and build relationships with current ones. It was a frequent occurrence that often required a bit of footwork and resources, and could take up entire days.
Now, with over three billion people frequently accessing the internet and two thirds of that on social networking sites, places like Facebook and Twitter have become the new, expanded community. This allows small businesses to reach potential customers that may be outside of regular traffic areas or business hours. With certain goods, it may even allow them the reach of large corporations.
Benefits of Using Social Media
The essential drive for use of social media is to establish connections. Whether this is with potential customers, current clients or fellow business leaders, social media expands business beyond its physical constraints. Regular posting also reassures interested parties that you are up to date and operational.
Building Customer Relations
One of the most common complaints among customers is the ease of access. Being readily available and engaging in conversation can provide a huge boost to their experience. A positive experience creates customer loyalty and may even turn into more promotion by word of mouth.
Real time reactions, such as likes and reblogs, can often be tracked through the sites as well. They can give insight to customer interest and provide direction for future projects and promotions. Customers can also give feedback on the products and services provided and even offer talking points not previously considered.
Increased Brand Awareness
On that same token, the more conversation engaged around your business, the more exposure you gain. Site that allow tagging, like Twitter, can introduce your product and to hundreds of new potential customers in mentions that link directly back to your page. This can also increase your presence on search engines like Google and Bing.
Targeted Ads & Promotions
Special events and promotions can draw in more potential customers and social media makes it much easier and cost effective to announce these special events. With sites like Facebook, it is even possible to narrow advertisements to a select area and reach a target audience.
Because most companies know the value of social media, it is easy to gain insight on any potential competition. It may even be helpful to reach out to those competitors to discuss processes or exchange ideas.
Top Social Media Sites
For small businesses looking to tap into this valuable but massive resource, it may seem daunting. One of the best ways to approach it is to build an online presence one piece at a time. To determine where to start, consider all the different sites and tools available and how they can be used for your business.
The biggest draw to Facebook is its popularity. With a 13% increase between 2014 and 2016, nearly two billion users are active monthly on Facebook. This means that it is a pretty safe bet that your customers are already familiar with using it. It is free to create a page and the site is both desktop and mobile ready, meaning customers can view information at any time.
Important details and pictures of services and goods can be offered through the page, as well as a direct link to a professional website which can boost traffic there as well. It is also more interactive, allowing customers to reach out with questions and feedback where businesses can easily respond. Facebook also provides statistics that can show consumer interest.
For faster, shorter information, Twitter is an excellent option. It provides most of the same functions as Facebook but in smaller bites. This makes it a good way to alert customers to new products and offers and direct them to more information. Unless you are directing to a main website, however, it might be best to make this a later option.
Customers can help promote their favorite brands by mentioning them in posts which will link to their Twitter page. Engaging in back and forth with both current and prospective customers can increase exposure as well. Additionally, researching competing companies can offer opportunities to win over new customers who may be dissatisfied with their current service.
Being able to upload videos is an especially useful tool to provide related DIY videos. A great example of this in action is the current campaign through Home Depot to teach millennials how to use basic skills they may not be familiar with, like how to use a tape measure. By offering these informative videos, it helps improve customer service and brand recognition, as well as samples the products available. Commercials and other promotional shorts can also showcase products and services in a more engaging forum than text.
Though it only sports a fraction of Facebook users at 500 million, LinkedIn is more centrally focused on business. This makes it a great way to not only reach potential customers but also to gain insight from others your field. While it offers similar functions to other social networking sites like communication features and personal updates to draw attention to announcements and promotions, it also has specialized tools. For example, the email allows up to fifty connections, which can be useful for newsletters.
It is essentially a site based around a resume and showcases skills and work for both individuals and businesses alike. Because of this, LinkedIn comes highly recommended by recruiters for both those seeking employees or employment. For small businesses looking to expand and bring on new professionals, LinkedIn is a must.
Once you have selected a preferred site, be sure to explore all of the tools available and take advantage of their use. Ensure a recognizable logo is in place and upload images available to showcase goods and services. Have important information, like contact numbers and hours, present and easy to find. Make sure what is available is to the point and redirect to a full website for further details.
It is important to keep any and all social media pages up to date daily. It may be best to assign the task to a personable individual that can navigate the page well. Especially when branching into several social media accounts, it may be worth investing in an associate dedicated to maintaining an online presence or even seeking out a third party to help maintain those accounts.