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    Breaking down social media marketing for small business owners

    By guestauthor2 | Yahoo Small Business

    Social Media Marketing

    Social media can be one of the most effective ways to grow your small business and drive additional visibility for your brand and products. While the importance of Social Media Marketing is not lost on many merchants, they still consider it a foreign concept and do not know how to properly engage with their customer base. Effective social media campaigns take time to create, strategic planning to execute and money to maximize visibility, but by implementing a few of these tips below, your brand’s social presence will be better than ever.

    When using Facebook to expand your marketing efforts, you have a few options, either promoting your business page to generate more followers or promoting individual posts to maximize their visibility and reach. Although both options have proven to be successful, remember that overall success is determined by content.Marketing on Twitter does have its advantages, if you are able to spend the money to promote your Twitter account rather than individual posts. This will cost a bit more but will help you gain visibility and build a loyal army of followers. LinkedIn is not a necessary marketing medium for small business owners, but if your business has a LinkedIn account, use it to share any industry related articles you author. Posting jobs to LinkedIn is also a great way to connect with new contacts and further build your professional network.

    Here are some tricks of the trade that we’ve developed over the years for social media marketing success:

    Enable Social Sharing.
    First and foremost, social share buttons should be featured throughout your website. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagramall offer buttons that allow customers to easily “like” or follow your brand with just a click of a button. Once a customer likes your page, they willregularly receive your company’s status updates in their feed.

    Offer Exclusive Promotions.
    Social media channels are great places to offer customers exclusive promotions. Customers will be more inclined to keep engaging and following your brandif you entice them with offers they can’t receive anywhere else.

    Build Content Around Special Occasions & Holidays.
    While a holiday may seem like it has nothing to do with your brand, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to come up with something fun that you can share with your audience. Diversity is key in social media, so it’s never a good idea to only post about your products or services. Also going with theprevious tip, holidays are also a good excuse to offer a time sensitive coupon promotion to all of your followers!

    Engage Your Customers.
    If a customer posts a reply to one of your posts or tweets, or takes the time to comment on your latest Instagram photo, make sure to respond. Customers often use social media as a platform to reach out to the brand or resolve a complaint. Replying in a timely fashion is key, as failing to do so could potentially hurt your business’ online reputation because other customers can see the interaction too. Social media is meant to be interactive, and this is a two-way street that needs to be paved by you, the brand.

    Sell Your Products Through Social Media.
    While you may not be directly taking orders through a Facebook page or interaction on Twitter, these channels are a great way for you to indirectly sell products and supplement traditional advertising methods. Store owners should always provide links so customers can easily purchase the product after seeing it in a post. Social media channels are also very image friendly (and often receive the highest engagement!), allowing businesses to show off their products in another space besides the online store.

    Every online store owner should have a social media presence, many customers will find it strange if you don’t in this day and age, and we recommend experimenting a little with each channel to see what works best for your customer base. If one channel is particularly good at driving traffic to your online store, definitely stick with it, but don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and experiment with other social media channels. Social media trends change daily and it is more essential than ever for small business merchants to keep up!

    Bryan Shaw acts as the Community Manager for 3dcart. He has a M.A. degree in Journalism coupled with years of experience in the eCommerce industry. Bryan can be reached at: bshaw@3dcart.com.

    Yahoo Small Business Services