Small business owners must maximize time and money to grow their companies. In particular, this poses challenges to business marketing.
Networking events are time consuming and may yield minimal results. TV or radio strain limited budgets and customer targeting is difficult. Meanwhile, direct mail is cost efficient but has spotty conversion rates.
So, what is a time and budget friendly way to brand your company?
The best solution may be social media marketing. While many of us have Facebook or Google + accounts to post everyday musings, social media is also a powerful business tool. Much like any technology, the value of social media depends on how you choose to use it.
Here are some social media strategies to consider:
Separate Your Business and Personal Life:
Separating business and personal matters is most thought of in terms of finance. However, your professional image and branding are also affected when using a personal Facebook page for business purposes.
Consider starting a Business Fan Page on Facebook, with a backlink to your website. Set a goal to post regularly and manage your reputation with social signaling.
Customers who are referred to your business typically have higher conversion rates. In this manner, your business gains credibility with search engines and customers when Facebook posts or Instagram pics are widely shared.
Why? Search engines want to give consumers interesting and relevant information. A heavily visited social profile with a backlink to your website ‘signals’ that consumers are interested in what the business has to say. As a result, SEO rankings may improve. While search engine rankings depend on multiple factors, social signaling is among the most easily influenced.
Elliott Broidy and Rotimi Rainwater relied on social media signaling to market their low budget production, ‘Sugar’, in the summer of 2013. ‘Sugar’ went on to earn a Congressional screening and win multiple awards with this cyber version of grass roots marketing.
How can a small business with ordinary services create social media buzz? A best practice is to keep things interesting and fun.
For instance, a pet groomer may post ‘Cute Puppy Battles’ across social media. “Puppy A vs. Puppy B, who do you think is cuter?” This example would likely generate a greater response than ‘Why Grooming Your Dog is Important”.
Hair salons may ask “Yes or No” questions to pictures of hot hairstyle trends in 2014. Mix in sales, photos of your building or new employee hires
A simple cell phone can shoot videos of client testimonials. Otherwise, before and after pics are also compelling. You can look for funny or bizarre videos across the web. Be sure to cite the source of all images and pictures. The image source is quickly found by doing a reverse image search on Google.
Note: It is recommended you avoid photos with ‘Getty Images’ as the source.
Remember, people mostly turn to social media for quick entertainment during lunch breaks or down time. You can stay first in their minds by keeping things fun and unique.
Engage Your Customers:
Social media makes responding to customers fast and easy. However, many businesses post information, yet do not respond to customer comments. Compliments on your product or service should be promptly thanked. Customers may feel neglected or assume your posts are generic if there is no engagement.
Individual questions often reflect the concerns of many customers. For example, unanswered questions about gluten free options may cause diners with diet preferences to go elsewhere.
Manage Your Settings:
Managing your social media reputation includes removing ill-advised comments. To avoid guilt by association, comments on politics, religion or sex should be deleted.
However, rational concerns should be tackled, such as complaints about excessive waits or someone commenting on your prices. You should respond to these posts and offer a resolution. Perhaps invite the customer back or offer to remedy the situation.
Showing the public you are willing to address issues is a powerful statement.
Branding a business is essential to setting your company apart. Social media is an easily accessed technology that helps grow your company in ways not otherwise possible.