Social media is a force to be reckoned with. Its influence is undeniable and while many organizations and businesses continue to experiment with ways to leverage that influence for their own purposes, social media marketing is a double-edged sword. A small business owner recently told me that a Facebook friend asked her to block them from her wall posts because they didn’t want to see her business-related posts. While it is understandable that some people would only want to use their social media for personal interactions, it is undeniably an essential tool for small businesses in particular. So how do we find the balance between inspiring people and overwhelming them? Here are some helpful tips for promoting your business on social media:
- Know, know, know your audience! While it is good to have a presence on multiple different platforms, be strategic about where you devote the most time. If your primary audience is college students, make Instagram your weapon of choice. If your mission, service, or product is primarily targeted toward women, get pinning! If you want to keep a professional or academic atmosphere, try LinkedIn. Do your research on the demographics of each platform’s user base and compare it to that of your clientele.
- Take advantage of each platform’s business account options. This is to your advantage! Using your personal accounts can scare away potential connections; it’s unprofessional and makes people feel like you’re taking advantage of their friendship. Many platforms offer great analytic tools to help you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Oftentimes there are also special features, like post boosting, that help to set your business apart.
- Use your time wisely. We all know that social media can swallow our time into a black whole of nothingness. Be strategic about how you use it! A management platform, such as Hootsuite (the love of my life), can save a lot of time just being able to schedule in bulk while you’re in the zone. You should also take the time to set up some parameters for yourself. What are your goals? What are your key message points? Who is your target audience? How often should you post? Have a plan before you even start so you don’t have to decide every time you sit down to post.
- Engage your audience. This is probably the most important thing to take away from this article. Your current audience is your most valuable marketing tool, so use them! Well… don’t take advantage of them, but definitely give them opportunities to advocate for you! Word of mouth is still the most credible form of marketing. Incentivize your customers to post their thoughts about your business. Support them when you are posting. Ask questions to encourage interaction on your page. Tag people, mention people, retweet, share, and comment, drop them names! If you are engaged they will engage.