Over the last ten years, the internet has seen a new revolution. Many are calling it the Web 3.0, the move towards the dominance of Social Media on the internet. As various social media empires have risen and fallen over the years, one thing has irrevocably changed. Social Interactions are here to stay. Odds are right now, somewhere on the internet, someone is discussing your small business, for better or for worse, or are looking for your services. If you don’t take advantage of every opportunity to engage your customers, you not only risk losing your current customer base, but any number potential future customers as well.
So how best to begin using Social Media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+? Here are a few simple steps you can take to take advantage of these powerful tools.
First, you need to do an honest assessment of your business. What services do you offer? What makes your company unique, and what will make people want to come to you for their specific needs and wants? If you are the only fireplace manufacturer in your rural area, then that is your niche, and what you want to target in your social media use. So make sure you promote yourself as such. “We are the only fireplace manufacturer within a seventy mile radius”. Or perhaps you simply offer the best services for what you do. Or the cheapest service. Or the fastest. You need to figure out what makes you more attractive than your competition, and make sure you promote that aspect of your business.
Once you have signed up for various social media websites, make sure you post frequently. Engage your friends and followers in conversations. Wish them a happy birthday. You could even offer them a special birthday coupon or discount offer. But make your interactions are personal, and targeted. Have discussions not only about your business, but also things related to your business. Going back to the fireplace manufacturer example, perhaps you could post news stories on the Emerald Ash Borer risks in your area, or how to properly dry and treat wood before burning it in a fireplace. All of these things will help build a sense of community around your business, and will make you look like an expert in your field.
Search for new friends and followers every day. Don’t go overboard, but try adding just 2 or 3 new followers each day. You can often do searches by keyword, to find other professionals in your area, or people who are interested in your business and services. Searching for hobbies related to what you do, or jobs in your field, can go along way to finding new customers. As a fireplace manufacturer, you can try and find other local contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc., and as you complete work, you can send business their way, and vice versa. You never know when or from where your next job can come, and word of mouth can be used very effectively.
Lastly, make sure you stay up to date at all times, and engage your customers immediately. Have alerts sent to your mobile phone, so when a customer reaches out to you, you can immediately respond. Taking a few minutes out of your day to type a few sentences on Facebook isn’t going to hurt too much, and the benefits of such interactions vastly outweigh the small effort needed to stay up to date and on top of your social media interactions. And of course, if the effort becomes too much for you as the small business owner, hire someone to manage your social media interactions. They can make sure that each interaction is done with the utmost professionalism, and in a timely fashion.
As you can see, there are a number of steps that any small business can take to utilize the enormous tool that Social Media has become in our everyday lives. As social media continues to evolve and infiltrate nearly every aspect of our culture and personal lives, any company or small business that does not take advantage of the opportunity to interact with and build their customer base, will quickly be left behind.