Social media works for much more than getting caught up with your old high school friends and seeing pictures of your second cousin's pet rabbit. Many entrepreneurs are finding that social media is an excellent way to promote their small businesses, network with other like-minded business owners and make important contacts.
If you'd like to try incorporating social media as part of your marketing strategy, check out this list of tips and tricks for making the most of this powerful people-connecting phenomenon.
Many small business owners tend to skimp on their advertising budgets. The problem with this is that without marketing and advertising, you can’t hope to drum up business.
Social media, if you are willing to take the time to run it yourself, is a great way to get the word out about your business, and it costs nothing. Create a separate account for your business on the major social networks like Facebook and Twitter and friend or follow those in your primary social demographic. For example, if your business is a children's consignment store, connect with parents of young children who are looking to save money. The advanced search feature available on most social networking sites makes it easy to find these people.
Make sure to keep your business profile separate from your personal profile. Go ahead and share funny stories if you like, but leave your drama at home.
Fun with Mascots
Does your business have a mascot? If not, are you willing to create one? Many companies are easily identifiable by their mascots. If you see a clown in a yellow suit with red hair, a freckled girl with red pigtails or an old Southern gentleman, you know immediately where you are eating.
Once you've chosen your mascot, create a Twitter profile and persona for your mascot. Animals are especially appealing. Many people create Twitter accounts for their pets, and there's even a Twitter chat set up especially for pets to "meet" with each other. Using this chat, you can get the word out about your business to other like-minded people.
When people feel like part of an exclusive club with special perks, they are more likely to be responsive. You can offer "gifts with purchase," percentage off coupons and even stage special events that are only available for your Facebook followers. If you mention to customers that these promotions occur on a regular basis, like once per month, you will quickly build a loyal following of people who are more than happy to spread the word about the great deals that are available.
You can also offer special discounts to your fans that "share" your statuses and keep your business centered on their pages so that all of their friends can see your brand. Why spend a fortune on advertising when you can get people to do it for free?
What attributes are you particularly known for? Do you have a quirky sense of humor? Are you friendly and welcoming to your customers and clients? You can incorporate these qualities into your social networking profiles as a memorable part of your brand.
First and foremost, social media is about building personal connections. Respond to people when they send you messages or comment on your posts. If you come across as relatable, people will be more likely to think of you when they have a need for whatever it is you are selling. You can generate an amazing amount of goodwill just by being generous with your knowledge and promoting others. Keep your posts to only about 10 percent self-promotion. Use the other 90 percent to tell jokes, share interesting links relevant to your field and promote other local businesses. Let the other businesses know when you have promoted them, and they will be likely to return the favor.
Jessica Bosari is a freelance writer and blogger for various publications and her own blog. You can read more of Jessica's work here. If you have any comments or questions about SavingTools.com or about saving money, leave your comments in the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!