How to use social media to grow your business
I’m Stephanie Keener, and I’m with the Virginia Small Business Development Center at Central Virginia Community College. Today we’re going to talk about how to choose the right social media for your business. I’ve been using social media for promoting events and businesses since social media was born, and worked in one of the first communities that used Facebook as a promotion tool. There are so many different kinds of social media. How do you pick the right one for your business? It can seem overwhelming at first, but a few basic tips will get you pointed in the right direction. Why is choosing the right social media important? Your social media presence shapes your reputation and showcases your personality. You get to set the tone for your business. It gives you the opportunity to talk to interested customers before they come in your shop or to a customer who’s already had experience with a product.
First, let’s make sure we’ve got some of the often ignored basics covered. Number 1: Do you have a website? Social media is key, but it does not replace your website. 2: Are you maintaining your Google listing? It’s free and easy to get your Google listing correct and maintained. This is one of the most important things you can do to drive customers to your business. If you’re not sure, just go to www.gybo.com. Enter the name of your business and Google will let you know if you’re listed appropriately. Number 3: Are you on review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. Chances are, even if you aren’t maintaining that listing, you will be listed there. So go to those sites and check.
Which social media platform should you use? That depends on who your customer is. You need to ask who you’re trying to talk to. Different people use social media in different ways. Find out how your target customer is using their favorite platforms. Are you talking to women who like to cook? Pinterest is the place to be. Do you need teens and young adults? Use Snapchat. Moms with kids are your bread and butter? Facebook and Instagram are right for you. Your best customers are cool and proud to be nerdy? You’d better be on Tumblr. How do I find out who’s using what types of social media? Well, just do a little research. First, ask. Ask your customers how they use their favorite social media. They’ll be excited to get a Snapchat from you with information about an event, even before you post it on Facebook, or even a coupon or offer. Check out what the experts are saying. Look for information from the PEW Research Center. Use the Internet and Tech tab to find their latest research on social media as a topic. Business Insider also tracks social media demographics. Some of their basic info is free, like this. Facebook is still important, even if you think your target audience is not there much. Facebook owns Instagram and you can buy ads for both through the Facebook advertising platform. Facebook business pages are indexed in Google, and this helps customers find you online. Facebook gives you access to data on people who like your page and on people in your area. While younger people might not post regular updates to Facebook, they still check it for community updates, news, events, and keeping up with their family. Keep up with changes and tips with Facebook through their Facebook for Business site. They have useful videos about using their advertising platform and their data.
Once you know where you’re going to post, make a plan. There are some really great social media planners online. Just Google it. The basics: mix it up with post times and be sure to include lots of videos and photos. Videos and photos are the preferred kind of posts for most people. Share posts from other businesses that are relevant such as news from your industry or another business in your neighborhood. Use social media to celebrate your best customers with permission. They’ll love it. No need to reinvent the wheel. Share your blog posts from other updates from other platforms. Keep up the good work. Engage with customers who engage with you. This humanizes your business and creates connections with potential customers. Like their comments. Answer questions as quickly as possible, even when they’re asked by multiple customers. Finally, learn to use the analytics on posts. Facebook gives you great data on how a post performs and with what customers. Use that data. Make engaging with you on social media worthwhile for your customers. Post social media only discounts and offers. Give your fans heads up about upcoming promotions. Contests and giveaways are a great way to grow followers. If you’ve got a super fan, reward them. It’s fun to give them a gift card or other benefit for that shared Facebook post or retweet. Finally, don’t forget to ask people to follow you. Put up a Snapchat code. Tell them your Pinterest handle and make sure they can see it. Signs at your door and register are effective.
So remember, social media is key, but it does not replace your website. Choose your social media based on how your customers use it. Engage with your customers on social media. It’s fine to repost information from your blog or other outlets. And finally, make your business’ personality shine through.
About Stephanie Keener
Stephanie is the Program Specialist at the Small Business Development Center at Central Virginia Community College, where she develops educational events and counsels small businesses and organizations and in the four county region and the City of Lynchburg. She comes to the SBDC from Lynchburg’s Virginia Main Street Program where she worked with small businesses and developed marketing and events for Downtown Lynchburg. Prior to that, she worked at the Blowing Rock, North Carolina, Chamber of Commerce as the membership and communications coordinator, planning large events and working with artists and other small businesses. She is the former Director of the New Opportunity School for Women at Lees-McRae College, a residential program for Appalachian women who are ready to seek new education and skills, and the Stephenson Center for Appalachian Studies at Lees-McRae. She has wide experience in social media marketing, event planning, and heritage and cultural attraction development. She holds a Masters of Arts in Appalachian Studies and has a special interest in rural development and transitional economies.
|Date Added||June 29, 2016|
Are you ready to promote your brand online through social media marketing? In this video, Stephanie walks through the social media basics.
- How to choose the right social media platforms
- Common social media mistakes
- Everything you need to know about Facebook
- How to make your social media plan
- Social media best practices and pro tips