[This guest post was written by business writer Lucy Harper.]
In a word—yes. There are many factors that contribute toward the success of a small business. A good business plan that’s been carefully thought out is essential. Having a budget that allows you to grow without going broke is also helpful. Likewise, knowing your target consumers and how to most effectively reach them plays a role in the achievement of your business goals.
Small business owners must make marketing a priority. Traditional marketing methods, such as mailers, newspaper or radio advertisements, or signs and billboards are effective, but they can also be too expensive for a small business to use regularly. A more affordable option, and one that puts small businesses on a more even playing field with big businesses, is social media marketing.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing includes the use of any social media venue to promote or advertise a business with the intent of gaining customers, sales and/or exposure. Nowadays, there are so many different social media venues on the internet that it can be mind-boggling trying to figure out which ones are best for your business. Generally, those with a proven track record are the best venues for small businesses to start with.
Commonly Used Social Media Marketing Venues
- Facebook. In 2012, 42 percent of marketers stated that Facebook was an important part of their marketing plan. This number had increased by 75 percent since the previous year. Whether you’re a personal fan of Facebook or not, using this venue can make smart business sense. Millions of people use Facebook daily and that number continues to grow. Small business use of Facebook’s marketing and advertising campaigns can help new businesses to expand their reach without breaking the budget.
- Twitter. 140 characters aren’t a lot when there’s a lot to say about your new business. But it’s enough to reach a multitude of other Twitter users on a daily basis. Use this venue in a reciprocal way, meaning it’s as important to follow similar users as it is to gain more followers.
- Pinterest. Many consumers are visually oriented and respond better to marketing methods that employ images or graphics, along with very little text. For these consumers, Pinterest is a gem of an online marketing venue. Post images or infographics related to your small business. You can also post videos. Pinterest users are especially interested in how-to’s and other types of useful, applicable information.
- Blogging. A business blog is an ideal accompaniment to your small business website. Blog at least twice per week with the intent of sharing useful information about your products or services.
Effective Use of Social Media Marketing
As a small business owner, it’s important that you put as much planning, effort, and commitment into your social media marketing as you do with the other aspects of your business. To achieve worthwhile effectiveness, you should incorporate social media marketing into your weekly schedule at least three times. If you’re not social media savvy or simply don’t have the time to invest in internet marketing, then it would be to your advantage to hire an employee for the task or work with a digital marketing agency.
Get the most out of your social media marketing by engaging consumers with conversation, invitations to comment or question and by responding to their comments. Pursue your online marketing efforts with the mindset of providing useful information to your consumer base. The internet is swimming with statuses, tweets and blog posts; make yours stand out from the rest by speaking directly with your consumer base in a way that positively impacts their lives. Ultimately, your use of social media marketing should serve to drive consumers back to your business website or brick and mortar location.
Lucy Harper is part of the writing team at Touchpointdigital.co.uk, a specialist media and advertising agency.