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Using social media to your advantage

webcam45381688.jpgAs Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter continue to draw attention, many small businesses are finding that these social media sites are a wonderful way to connect with their customers. While on social media sites, you can gain a wealth of information about your customers that will provide you with free market research. Several major companies have gravitated to social media sites as well and they often use them to announce sales and the launch of new products. Since you are operating a small business, your social media page will allow you to be a little more intimate with your customers. Meaning, you have the opportunity to carry on conversations with some of your customers and lead up some great discussion groups. Let your customers see your face so they can associate you with the business and it will start to form a stronger relationship with the company.

Sign up for as many social media sites as possible because they are free. It's in essence, free advertising and free market research and you can't get a better deal than that when you are trying to market your small business. Use the discussion groups to ask your customers questions about their satisfaction with your company along with your products and services. This will give you a great opportunity to find out your companies strengths and weaknesses according to your customers.

In addition to creating social media accounts, you also need to create a blog. Use the social media sites to direct customers to your blog where they can read articles and learn more about subjects pertaining to your business. This will start to boost your small businesses credibility rating with your customers and pretty soon word of mouth will spread about your company and how you are the "expert" in your industry.

Don't look upon social media the same way you do with advertising and other marketing tactics. You don't want to sell to your customers on social media sites, you want to share information and build relationships with them. Go into social media marketing with the mindset of establishing long-term customer loyalty rather than quick sales. Instead of always trying to tell them how your product will benefit their life in some way, write articles and hold discussions that provide other tips that could potentially benefit their life. This is one of the best ways to strengthen customer relationships and to boost your credibility.

Simple tips to use in social media marketing:

  • Send out coupon codes to your customers. When you first start up a social media marketing campaign, the best thing you can do is offer them discounts to hook them into your web site and to start buying from your company.

  • Brand your company. Part of social media campaigns deal with making a name for yourself online. Brand your business by joining discussion groups and forums where you can make your presence.

  • Watch your tone. When you are on social media sites you are only communicating via text and the messages you put out there can quickly become misinterpreted. Be careful about being sarcastic or trying to make jokes because it may come off offensive to your customers.

  • Be patient. Social media has been overexploited by a lot of companies and this has made a few customers pretty weary about which companies they can trust on these sites. Social media isn't going to be your big solution to a failing marketing campaign so don't put all your eggs in one basket. Pace yourself with social media and stay active on the sites and the more your post, the more exposure you will start to gain and pretty soon you will have a large following.

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