Social media is an inexpensive, yet powerful way to reach a huge audience with your products, services and ideas. Here are seven ways that small businesses can use social media.
1. The most obvious use of social media is to reach more prospects and increase the number of potential leads coming into your sales funnel. For example, since there are over 850 million users on Facebook, it is very likely that some of your prospects will be there and so should your business. You can set up a Facebook page for your business at no cost and you can use paid ads on Facebook to target your market based on their location, interests, age, gender and other factors.
2. An often overlooked way to use social media is to listen to what your market is talking about and wishing they could get. By following relevant conversations, based on keywords you select, on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mashable and others you can gain insights on what is most important to your prospects. You can incorporate this market intelligence into your plans for product improvements, promotions and other activities.
3. Many businesses are effectively using social media as part of their customer service strategy. Twitter, in particular, is ideal for responding quickly to customer inquiries and having real-time conversations to help rapidly resolve issues. Some businesses that do not have resources to hire full-time customer service staff are training multiple staff members, particularly those with product knowledge, to handle customer service inquiries during the course of their day.
4. Promotions and other limited time offers can also be effectively addressed with social media. Daily specials can be posted on your Facebook Page and tweeted to customers. For businesses operating by appointment, social media can be used to help fill open time slots perhaps at a discount when customers respond on the same day. Last minute cancellations and no shows are a major problem for service businesses and social media can help to recover revenue that would otherwise be lost.
5. Related to the above idea, but going one step further is using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to sell and take orders. Companies such as 1-800-Flowers have set-up their Facebook pages to take orders directly from customers. A creative use of Twitter is mobile lunch trucks that use it to give customers their location and let customers tweet in their orders.
6. Social media gives you access to many contacts that otherwise would be difficult to reach. Whether it be sales prospecting or looking for potential collaborators for projects, you can find and connect with people to start mutually beneficial relationships.
7. If you want to position yourself as an authority in your industry, social media is an excellent channel to use. As we have mentioned, there is no cost to use this channel other than your time. You can provide valuable information to visitors, prospects and customers through a blog, in industry forums online, webinars, podcasts, videos and other media. Consistently sharing useful information while keeping your marketing to a minimum in these messages will help build your reputation as an industry resource.
As you can see, the uses of social media are limited only by your imagination once you understand how it can help you expand and deepen the relationships that power your business.