Social media is great, but it can have its pitfalls, too. There’s a very specific etiquette that comes with social media (especially as it pertains to business), and if you don’t follow it, you could find yourself banned in such a way that you even hurt your business. Therefore, while the casual atmosphere of social media is certainly great for business, there are some things you should be aware of so that you can be careful, too when getting started with social media.
When it comes to social media for small business, the world is literally your oyster. What does that mean? It means that your customer base has the potential to be worldwide, depending on what you’re selling. Because social networking is so pervasive and can literally reach to every corner of the globe, you have the opportunity to find and target your customers specifically, thus potentially increasing your sales exponentially.
If you’re just starting your own small business, you may not know about social media and what it can do for you. At its essence, though, social media is a great way to “get the word out” about your business and help you grow almost effortlessly.
Sounds good, right? But before you get started, there are a few things you should know about social media and how it works.
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YouTube is one of the fastest growing ways that small businesses are using to promote themselves. It makes good business sense; YouTube is viewed by millions of people from all over the world every day. It is one of the best ways to get the word out about your business. YouTube offers many ways to help small businesses, particularly with marketing.
Low-Cost Advertising and Marketing
It is very difficult to grow your business without some form of advertising. Unfortunately, advertising can also be quite costly. Advertising is one of the biggest expenses most businesses, particularly small ones have. Advertising campaigns can cost many thousands of dollars. To air just one television commercial, you would have to rent expensive equipment, pay for actors, editors, and filmmakers, and the air-time. YouTube takes many of these costs away. For the most part it is free to post videos to YouTube. Not only that, but you yourself could take video with a personal digital camera.
Increased Advertising and Marketing Freedom
Most methods of advertising and marketing are very constrained. A television commercial can only be so long. Newspaper ads must be under a certain word limit. Certain words and images are not allowed in either medium. None of this matters on YouTube. If you want to give a fifteen minute demonstration of all of your products features, you certainly can. You can market towards an adult audience you will be able to, although there are limits. If you feel like your product is best advertised by a dose of adult humor, you probably will be able to on YouTube.
Advertising and Marketing As Entertainment
For the most part, people ignore advertisements. How many people use DVR’s or TIVO’s so that they can fast forward through commercials? In all honesty, how many newspaper ads do you read every day? The benefit of YouTube is that it exists for entertainment.
People watching YouTube videos are doing so for their amusement. Someone who watches the marketing and advertising videos that you post will be doing so by choice. Because they are doing so by choice, they are much more likely to pay attention to what you are saying. You can even disguise advertising and marketing as entertainment on YouTube. You could make a humorous video where your product is prominently featured or mentioned. There possibilities are only limited by your creativity.
Potential for Customer Identification
One of the most important aspects of marketing is customer identification – who are our customers and who might become our customers. Many millions are spent every year doing so. YouTube makes this easy. The people who view your content are at least somewhat interested in your company or its products. They saw that your video was posted, and they chose to view it. The people who comment on your video are likely the ones who are most interested. Many users have their own pages which you can comment on or may contain contact information which you can use connect with them in the future.
It is essential that businesses receive feedback from customers about all aspects of their operation: products, services, customer service, advertising and marketing campaigns, etc. Feedback allows businesses to improve their products and their operations. Feedback also allows businesses to solve problems that customers have had with them, and thus make it more likely that customers will be retained.
Almost every YouTube video has a multitude of comments posted underneath them. These comments function as feedback. All comments, even negative ones are useful. For example, if users seem to think that the stars of your video are lacking in acting ability, you would be best suited in finding other stars for future videos. Or if users comment that a product which you are advertising is lacking features that a competitor’s product has, you may be able to add those features to your product.
There are an ever growing number of social media sites and social networking has become ingrained into modern life. Social media is crucial to the success and failure of many small businesses and freelancers. Even though most people are at least somewhat familiar with social media, there are certain things every small business and freelancer should know.
Social Media Is Often the Cheapest Available Means
Many, perhaps most, social media sites are completely free for their users, and nothing is cheaper than free. The sites make their money from advertisements; therefore it is in their best interest to get as many users as possible. Even those sites that do charge fees are almost always less expensive than other means to the same ends.
Social Media Can Take Very Little Time
Depending on the site and what you are doing with it, social media can be used by spending very little time each day. 15 minutes a day or less is all that it will take to use most sites effectively. You are obviously free to take as much time as you would like, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to or are unable to.
Social Media Can Connect You to Customers and Fans
Business is all about using your connections to your advantage, and social media is all about forming connections. Social media allows you to have contact with current and potential fans and customers. You can use this contact to further your business or career.
Social Media Can Be Fun
The purpose of social media for most users is to entertain themselves. It is enjoyable to see the content posted by others, and to engage them in conversation. There is no reason that while you are advancing your business and career interests you can’t also enjoy yourself.
Choose Which Sites You Use and What You Put On Them Carefully
Every social media site functions differently and has a different group of people who use it. You need to determine what you want to get out of social media and which sites will best allow you to do that. Once you have selected which sites to use, you should only post content that will further your goals.
The Number Of Social Media Contacts That You Have Does Not Directly Correlate With Sales
Although there is some correlation between the number of social media contacts that you have and how successful your business or freelancing career is, it is not a direct correlation. You will probably find that as your number of contacts goes up, so will your sales, but the two might go up at drastically different rates.
Be Careful Not To Waste Time on Social Media
Social media can suck you in. You may absent-mindedly go from page to page and without realizing it have wasted half of the day. Beyond that, if you don’t use social media effectively, it will be a waste of time that you could have spent elsewhere. What is the point of spending an hour a day on your Facebook fan page if you don’t see any increase in business?
You Need To Have a Thick Skin in Order to Use Social Media
There are few places where you will get as much negative feedback as you will in the social media world. Some social media users take out their own feelings on others in the internet realm. You will get a great deal of criticism, some personal and hurtful, if you put yourself out there on the internet.
You Can Hurt Yourself by Using Social Media
Although the many benefits of social media likely makes it too good to pass up, there are risks associated with social media. Overuse of social media may mean that you will lose friends and contacts. It is also possible that others will contribute to your site or account and that contribution may be offensive or damaging. Always remember to be professional and think twice about anything you put into the public realm.
When building your social media profiles and developing your content for distribution, it is important to keep your personal brand in mind. Social media has presented us with so many opportunities to grow our personal brand equity. I’m only covering a few here today but will cover others in the near future.
What is Personal Branding? Personal branding is, in essence, a means to package yourself in such a way as to present a particular image for business or career purposes. It is the way you market yourself to your peers and prospects.
Think about these key areas when building your personal brand:
Picture Is your photo a professional looking picture. What happens on the internet stays on the internet so be careful which photos you post on Facebook, Flickr and other photo sharing sites.
Portfolio If you have published articles, books or other work, make sure to highlight them and link to them if you can. Big brand builder here!
Logo, color & tagline Do you have a logo or tag line? If not, think about creating them. They will give you instant credibility and add to your brand equity. Also, watch this video to understand the value of color and its relationship to your personal brand. SocialMediaVideos.org
Web site/blog Does FREE mean anything to you? Start a free blog at WordPress or another site. Keep it up to date and keep it focused to build your brand. If you are putting yourself out there as an expert in starting a business, don’t spend too much time blogging about Fortune 500 stuff. Also, register your own personal web site if you haven’t already. And get the email package too so you can provide the nice professional touch of email@example.com. GoDaddy is an affordable choice here.
Business card If you don’t yet have your own personal business card, get on it. This should have your personal details including your cell phone, personal email and your personal branding statement or tag line. Try VistaPrint for affordable cards.
Bio Keep your Bio up to date so you can forward it out to journalists prior to an interview or to other stakeholders when needed.
Facebook, Twitter customization Get your social media profiles customized to match your personal branding look and feel. It’s cheap or you can do it yourself if you have some patience. Try MyCorporateMedia if you need help with this.
Using social media is an ideal way to build your personal brand, to expand and reinforce your network, and to increase your brand’s value. Your efforts will be noticed immediately and will pay major dividends now and in the future.
Are you spending time on Social Media with no defined business plan? It can easily become an obsession that if not addressed with result in no measurable results for your business.
While we all like to network and hang out in the virtual space sharing ideas, opinions, and passions. You can easily get lost even if you are using some of the social media business tools without a well defined social media strategic plan.
Whether it be bookmarked websites you read every day, news sites you comb, your networks status updates, and recent pictures uploads. You can slowly be sucked in everyday going through these areas spending countless non-productive hours on them every day.
So here are five tips to get started:
1. Pick a few strategies you can use that generate results and be sure to track inquiries, traffic increase, status update engagements, brand awareness, and leads brought in by your results.
2. Define a Strategic Social Media Plan after you implement a few strategies for at least 6 to 12 weeks of measuring your results.
3. Monitor Your Industry, Prospects, and Competition LISTEN with free and/ or paid services such as google.com/alerts or Radian6. Then make adjustments to your Strategic Social Media Plan.
4. Secure advice from industry marketing experts who have been successful with social media.
5. Finally, keep in mind that social media is an ingredient to your already existing marketing efforts to bring together an Integrated Marketing approach.
What additional tips would you offer? We welcome your insight.
So how do you capitalize on the power of Social Media promoting your business on Facebook? While Facebook seems extremely social rather than professional, make no mistake your professional decision makers are on Facebook.
Here is a short list to begin to consider promoting your business or company on Facebook.
1. Join & interact with groups that have your target market participating. Simply use the Facebook search and click on the magnifying glass to choose your search of just groups.
2. Create a Fan Page and begin to promote to your current customers and past clients to “like” the page. This will in turn show up to your customers followers that they like your page. Potentially creating more clients.
3. Post qualifying questions that you use in your business to take a cold lead and turn them into a warm lead. Post these questions as “status updates”.
That was three simple steps to promote your business on Facebook. What other things would you recommend?