For the unpracticed, a comprehensive social media presence can often seem like quite the daunting task. Social buzzwords like “Snapchat,” “Facebook,” “Instagram,” and “Twitter” have become such an integral part of society that most no longer think twice about them anymore. Society’s increasing comfortability with status updates and food photos is leaving many small business feeling like the new guy who just signed up at a gym: access to lots of fancy machines with no idea how to use any of them while everyone else is enthusiastically pumping iron and happily running miles. But that’s okay; sometimes just showing up is a solid step in the right direction.
Just like each machine at the gym, every social media outlet has its place in the arsenal of small business advertising. While the average small business might think that these big tools are reserved for the big business at play, most are discovering that they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, with a little direction and some insight, it quickly becomes clear that social media is far better suited to the independent small business owner than ever before. The right machine at the right time with the right amount of reps will leave any small business looking leaner and stronger in no time.
The Social Customer Service Machine
With about 830 million daily active American users in December of 2015, Facebook is still the world leader in social networking. With a fully integrated system that now includes everything from instant messaging apps to business pages, Facebook is a one stop social media shop for its more than 40 million active small business page users. Having a strong Facebook presence is about more than just advertising, however, it’s about creating a firm connection between a business and its customers. That one person answering the phone up front isn’t quite enough to field all the questions and customer service concerns folks might have. With a Facebook Page, consumers have direct access to all the information they may need about a business.
Twitter is in the same realm of social service with 81 percent of its users expecting a same day response to business inquiries and complaints. This means that more customers are relying on social media outlets to contact businesses rather than simply picking up their phone and making a call. It’s simpler, easier, and while not often quicker, far more convenient for both businesses and consumers alike.
The truest way to grow and maintain a successful business is by listening to the needs of clientele. This means being actively willing to listen to the concerns of a customer base and responding accordingly. The most proven way to do this is through mass exposure. Just like that one kid in class who always asked the question others were too afraid to raise their hand for, having a designated space for one patron to ask a question publicly is far more effective than a hundred of the same questions asked privately.
The Promotion Machine
Promotions are the meat of any small business marketing strategy, and there is no better way to get this meat to the public than through social media. By asking clients to follow a Facebook or Twitter page, or any other social media outlet of choice (Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc.) small businesses create a direct link to their consumers’ pockets (well their cell phones, anyway).
A small family-owned restaurant decides to create a last minute lunch special on a slow day. How do they promote it? Just send out a tweet about 50 percent off soup and salad specials. Have some extra tile left over from a construction job? Post through Facebook about a deal on kitchen tile backsplash. What once took weeks of planning, advertising, and promoting now takes a few key strokes and hitting “send.”
The Full Body Social Media Circuit
Creating a profound social media presence is slightly more complicated than merely creating a Facebook page with a business address on it. It takes dedication, effort, and a willingness to commit time (rather than money) to a proven advertising mechanism. This means broad spectrum exposure. Not all consumers use Facebook (though many do) and some may prefer Instagram to Twitter (which is becoming a common trend). By utilizing all the outlets available and showing up where the potential clients already are, a company vastly increases its chances of exposure.
Going the Distance
Social media, like a new gym membership, takes time and patience. Results won’t come over night, and the equipment may take some getting used to (maybe even a personal trainer). But with persistence and enthusiasm, it will quickly prove to be the best marketing and customer service decision any small business can make.