How to get your small business started with Social Media

With business tight and money at a premium, small businesses continue to look for low cost, effective ways to reach their target market and drive sales.  The choice of marketing methods is wide, including both traditional and Internet Marketing tools and techniques.  The technique that is the hottest, that is different from the others, and that offers unique and compelling potential is Social Media.

EVERY small and medium-sized company owner that I talk to these days has heard of Social Media.  They know they need to explore it and consider whether it is right for them.  They also don’t understand it, how to use it, what the benefits are, and how to get started.

This article is intended to provide a simple roadmap to building a practical Social Media framework that any business can use to dip their toe into the social media waters, gain more insight, and make more effective decisions about the role that social media can play in their business

Develop a Facebook Fanpage

Start by creating a Facebook profile and Fanpage.  Virtually everyone now knows that Facebook is the biggest of the social community site, with over 400 million members at last count.  While your website should remain the center of your marketing universe, your Facebook Fanpage should become a close second in importance and value.

Facebook enables you to create a meeting place, a community of people that come together around a common theme, passion, product, or topic.  Your first objective is to provide your followers with the  desire to return to the community on a regular basis.

Accomplishing this requires two steps—first, continue to provide new content on a regular basis, whether text, images, or video.  Second, engage the community and encourage them to start sharing their thoughts in conversations and posts, taking an active role within the community.

Once you have established a vibrant community, you have the opportunity to provide special offers, contests, and incentives.  After building your Fanpage, focus #1 is making people aware of your page and inviting them to become fans.

Create  a Twitter account

Twitter is a way to broadcast information—140 characters at a time.  It can be an effective tool to disseminate information you want your followers to be aware of—information about your business, special offers, events, new clients, and other successes.  The key to success here is to build your profile and begin building followers.  Once you have followers you can start sharing information.

An additional key to social media success is to integrate your various social media tools and sites, of which Twitter plays a significant role.  More on this below.

Build a Linkedin profile

Since its inception, LinkedIn has grown to include more than 55 million users in 200 countries world-wide. This is no accident. LinkedIn is based on the principle that every person is connected to one another by no more than six degrees of separation from everybody else. In other words, individuals can connect with one another simply by utilizing their network of contacts.

And this is where LinkedIn can help business owners and their employees. The website keeps track of who knows whom and provides a means to connect people based on professional expertise, needs, and interests.

Linkedin can help you get connected and network with like minded professionals, search for new resources and partners, interact with present and past work colleagues and if need be, help you to get a new job.

Link your Twitter account to Facebook and LinkedIn

As I mentioned earlier, integrating your social media tools and information flows together where possible provides a synergistic value.  Two primary ways to do this are by having your Twitter posts automatically update and appear in your Facebook Fanpage and your LinkedIn profile.

So tweeting once enables you to broadcast your information to multiple sites where you are building your online communities.  This saves you time, and brings fresh content to the primary gathering points for your communities, encouraging them to return frequently.

Create a blog

Finally, create a blog.  This is a critical element in note only communicating with your community and pushing out information, but it is a key contributor to SEO success as well.  The two things to keep in mind for Social Media are that blogs give you the ability to establish a base of subscribers interested in the focus and topics of your blog, and you can integrate your blog with your Facebook Fanpage.

This will ensure that your blog posts are automatically available to all of your fans—making your Facebook Fanpage richer, more vibrant and providing new and interesting content on a regular basis.  This topic is important enough to cover in a post of its own.

Add Widgets for your Social Media sites to your website to attract even more members

Widgets are little symbols or icons representing each of your Social Media accounts.  By placing them prominently on your website, you are encouraging visitors to your website to become fans of your Social Media communities.

These widgets make it easy for your prospects and clients to connect with you in different ways, and provides you a variety of new opportunities to stay in touch which them, and provide them offers and information that will entice them to do business with you.

After all, if you are not making money from your investment in Social Media, then it is just a fun (and time consuming) way to connect with people around the world.

By investing about 10-12 hours to build out this Social Media framework, you can create a presence for your business in the newest and most exciting dimension of Internet Marketing.  At WSI, we are Social Media experts—call us today if you need help getting started.

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