Social media and your niche business

If all of your competitors are already on Facebook and Twitter, how do you set your small business apart from the rest? The right social media marketing will help your niche business generate more leads, build a customer base, and reinforce your brand. In order for your campaign to work, you need to go beyond the basics. A combination of stellar content and social media marketing will set your business apart from the competition, and also help you build your customer base.

As a small business owner in the copywriting and marketing field, I work with other small business owners to create social media and content marketing campaigns; these projects involve more than just being active on Facebook or setting up a Twitter account.

Use these ideas to market your small business using social media:

#1: Reach out to Customers After the Sale

Find a way to reach customers on the social networks after a sale. Encourage new customers to find you on Facebook to snatch up a free gift for their purchase, or redeem some other type of offer. Simply reaching out to customers to say "thank you" via Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ will create a more memorable customer service experience. These connections will also give the customer a chance to engage with your company or brand in a new way.

#2: Create a Custom Facebook Landing Page

Facebook is no longer requiring people to "Like" your page in order to drop a comment. People who don't "Like" your Facebook page won't get any of your updates in their News Feed, so you need to create an incentive for each visitor. A custom Facebook landing page featuring a downloadable coupon or other freebie can encourage "Likes" and increase engagement. I work with a client who created a free report as an incentive for becoming a fan. You can hire someone to create this landing page for you, or use an online design tool to customize a template.

#3: Shoot a Video

Video marketing has a social element to it because many people are willing to share a video on Facebook, post comments on sites like YouTube, and share it across other social networks. Be creative and shoot a clever commercial or a showcase of products and services. Ask satisfied customers to do a short interview or video testimonial for you. Post the video on your website and encourage people to comment, rate, and share it.

#4: Encourage Check-Ins at Your Location

Several restaurateurs in my area are having great success with Foursquare check-in promotions. They encourage patrons to check-in for a discount on their meal or a free appetizer or drink. Check-ins on sites like these can get posted on the customer's Facebook Wall so the event is shared with their entire social network. Highlight these offers right at the front desk or entrance of your business, and also on your website. Check-in promotions can be a great way to generate buzz about your business and encourage patrons' friends to pay attention and get in on a deal.

#5: Share Other People's Ideas

Take some time to learn about other businesses in your niche and find them on Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn. If you're a spa or fitness club owner, look for the social accounts of brands you carry. If you're a law firm, look for service providers that complement your business. Take steps to share these contacts' content across your own social networks so that you're more visible. Facebook's new "Share" feature allows the poster to see who shared their content. Twitter's @ mentions are perfect for announcing that you shared something, without going out of your way to say you did so. Sharing other people's ideas can foster some relationships and your contacts might do the same in return.

Read more by Sabah Karimi.

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