Social media has created a new solution for small businesses to reach their customers. We’ve seen everything from promotions tailored strictly for social media fans and followers to blogs, videos and Pinterest boards that create online buzz and chatter around a business.
For some business owners, engaging in social media can seem overwhelming; especially with its newness and the time it takes to run it effectively. But it’s important in this day and age for your business to be active in social media.
Why? First of all, your reputation can be managed here. Secondly, your customers expect to see you here and to interact if they have questions, praises or complaints. And lastly, it’s easy for you to proactively showcase your business to current and potential customers.
Below, we’d like to present some unique ideas to help with your business’ social media marketing strategy:
- Stay ahead of the curve with social media platforms in which you can creatively control the content.
Businesses are effectively using social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to reach their audiences, but new platforms are popping up daily that provide a chance to stay a step ahead of the curve. Vine, for example, is a platform created by Twitter and is one of the latest crazes in social media. It’s similar to Instagram in that it shares visual content, but instead of a static photo, Vine users can posts six-second videos. This is an ideal tool for a small business to creatively take advantage of for promotions or new merchandise. Maybe a salon owner could use it as the perfect medium to show a before, during and after cut or style on a client? Or perhaps you’re a pet storeowner and you want to show off some of the latest toys you have in stock? You could invite customers to bring their pups out to “test” the toys on camera. Get some fun shots of the animals enjoying the toys and there you have it, an easy-to-create, easy-to-share testimonial that you can post on Vine and push to all of your social networks. Pretty cool, huh?
- Get connected…everywhere!
It’s a fact that customers, even before stepping foot into your store, research your business through online measures. This includes reviewing your website, reading through your Facebook page and seeing what you’re talking about on Twitter. Why not incorporate all social sites together in one place? Aside from including social media icons on your website, sites like Twitter make it easy to embed your Twitter stream directly into your website. Called Widgets, you can access this widget by logging into your Twitter account on your computer. From there, go to the Gear tool in the right hand corner, click “settings,” then “widgets” and it will give you a step-by-step guide to create a code to have the widget embedded into your website. You can also customize the link color to stay consistent with your branding, and the widget automatically adds a follow button so customers can easily connect with you right then and there.
- Instead of telling the story of your business, show the story of your business.
Instagram is another visual social site that merchants both large and small have experienced success with, especially in the retail sector. Instagram is ideal to use for your business because it can give your customers behind-the-scenes, VIP access. You can use it to truly show your customers what your business is all about. Whether it’s a photo of the to-die-for donuts you pick up from the local bakery for the office or a shot of the new shipment of products that just came in, Instagram can help your customers have an inside look into your business.
- Promote your social media efforts offline.
Another tip about offline efforts towards social media: tell users WHY they should connect and engage with your business online. Do you hold fun contests on Facebook? Do you share the latest sales only to your Twitter followers? Will your new line of stock coming in be announced exclusively to your Instagram followers? Lead them in by sharing why they should engage with you in social media. This last tip comes from a partner and endorser of Integrity Payment Systems, retail expert Bob Negen of Whizbang! Training. Every week, Bob offers a free and helpful tip for retailers and one of his latest “Tip of the Week” includes a very important point when doing any offline marketing. Bob recommends that with print marketing pieces, you should “also give [customers] a way to connect with your community…Include your Facebook page, Twitter handle, Pinterest page, YouTube channel, or whatever other social media outlets you use.” You can do this by using a QR code for example, which easily allows for a customer to scan the code from their smartphone and be sent to a link of your choice. (Be sure to sign up for Whizbang! Training’s Tip of the Week here.)
With all of this being said, there are also services out there designed to help a retailer or storeowner with their online marketing efforts if they don’t have the time to do so. We recommend SnapRetail, a newer partner of ours that we’ve had the recent pleasure of hosting a webinar with.
SnapRetail makes it easy for local retailers to engage with customers and drive store traffic through email, Facebook. Pinterest and Twitter with unique product features such as an interactive planning calendar, monthly promotion kits, pre-written and professionally designed templates, and an Exclusive Offers Program. Thousands of retailers have signed up for SnapRetail’s affordable marketing solution as a one-stop-shop for their marketing needs.
If you incorporate social media into your marketing efforts, how do you use it for your business?