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.
There’s something you have to do if you want that to happen, though. It’s all well and good to get the word out about your product or service, and to let people know that it’s available. If you don’t establish yourself as an expert who truly wants to help people, though, it’s not likely you’re going to get much of a customer following. The key, then, with social networking is that you have to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Once you can do that, and once you have clearly aligned your online persona or your “brand” with that expertise, you’ll have success.
How do you establish yourself as an expert through social media?
Although social media can make something happen instantly, in that you can literally get a particular message to thousands or even millions with the click of a mouse or the push of a button, establishing yourself as an expert is going to take some time and effort. Therefore, build slowly from the ground floor up and establish yourself as an expert before you try to push your product or service too much.
- Start slowly, offering advice on forums and other social media pages
Depending on what your particular business is, you can begin to frequent like-minded forums and other social media pages and venues. Post frequently and often, including your signature line or the website address for your business — but don’t try to sell anything. Instead, honestly answer people’s questions and offer advice for “free.” Your ultimate goal, of course, is that you will attract customers, but your intent at this point should simply be to help people. In turn, that will raise your profile as someone who is an expert in your field.
- Write articles and blog posts, perhaps graduating to videos
As you are offering advice to others on other forms of social media networks, you can also be writing blog posts and articles on your area of expertise that you will then post to various article directories and blog sites.
Now, again, this has to be genuinely quality content that gives people something for “nothing.” We see poorly written articles or badly produced videos all the time that don’t really offer anything. They’re clearly simply meant to entice people to buy something. That’s misguided though, and doing that is not going to help you become an expert in other people’s eyes. They’ll simply see you as a shyster interested in their money, and nothing else. Then they’ll go look for somebody who truly is an expert and is willing to help them. Your articles, blog posts and videos should be of the best quality you can produce, with the true intent of helping people with a problem they need to solve. At the bottom of these articles or blog posts, or at the end of these videos, you can certainly include your website or contact information so that people can find you, but selling something should not be the central focus. Post these videos, blog posts and articles to directories or your website, encouraging people to share them by putting easy to use links to Facebook and Twitter on the pages your posts or videos appear.
When you do this, you will slowly become well-known as a true expert in your field, which will encourage people to turn to you for advice and yes, buy your products or services. (Incidentally, you can do this even if your business is a local-only business. You’ll still gain a lot more traffic to your website and therefore attract more customers by doing so.)