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Small Business Nation. A Project of The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Top 10 Social Media Recommendations for Small Business

Social media can easily intimidate and overwhelm even experienced pros. It’s free, in that you don’t need to buy stamps and other paper communications, but it is not without cost.

To ease your fears, we recommend these steps, which any “noob” (someone new to technology) can do. 

  1. Set goals– You do it with financials. Do it with social media. Who do you want to reach? What do you want them to do once they get your messages? Are you content to just have customers “like” you on Facebook? Or do you want them to make purchases? Write it down.
    Having social media profiles because “it’s the thing to do” isn’t going to help you. You need specific goals from your social media presence. Goals can be tracked, and your social media success can be measured.
  2. Follow your audience – You have literally hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of social media platforms to choose from. You want to use the platforms that your customers use. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers that. You want to get it right.

  3. Start small– Pick one platform and make a commitment to yourself to use it several times a week. Social media can take a lot of time, which is probably a resource you could use more of. As you feel more comfortable with the platform, use it more often and use more of its features.
    Beware: Don’t get lost in the weeds of social media. The platforms most often used – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – make changes frequently. You could make a career out of keeping track of them. Leave that to others.

    Minimum requirements:
    Start with Facebook. Then try LinkedIn if you're a B2B or Twitter if you're a B2C. After that … ask your customers again where they go.
  4. Claim your turf – Reserve your company’s name on all the major social networks, even if you don’t have a social media plan ready to go. For instance, Twitter.com/YourBusiness sounds a lot better than Twitter.com/YourBusiness234. Plus you don't want competitors squatting on your brand.

  5. Eavesdrop – Tune in to what people are saying about you, your business, and your industry before you jump into the conversation. You can’t steer a conversation if you don’t know where it is. Three tools that come to mind for eavesdropping: Google Alerts, your Facebook page and Twitter searches. All three are free.

  6. Integrate – Let your customers know every way possible that you use social media. Put it on your business cards, your stationery, your invoices, your Web site, in your emails, your newspaper ads, in your window. If you use more than one social platform, link to them from your Web site and the other social media platforms you use.

  7. Say something useful – Once you get comfortable and start “talking” on social media, tell your customers things they can use. Add value to their day. Talk about special offers; inform them of changes in your business hours, etc. What would YOU want the businesses you deal with to tell you? That’s what you should tell your customers. And you don’t have to be long-winded about it. A brief notice repeated periodically works.

  8. Use photos – People like photos. Take them and put them on your social media profiles. Pictures of new products, new employees, special deals, your customers. If you or your employees work with community groups, take pictures of their participation in 5K races, public space cleanups and other good works.

  9. Offer incentives – Offer incentive for a customer to follow you in a social media outlet. If they like you on Facebook, they get a coupon. If they re-tweet your tweet, they are entered to win a contest. Promotions are great ways to get new followers.

  10. Measure your success – You set up goals. You even wrote them down. Check yourself at least once a month. Are you making progress? Does the progress match the effort? Can you make improvements? You won’t know if you don’t measure from time to time. (Most of the social platforms have metrics that track your activity for you.)

Social media gets a lot of hype because it is “free” and easy. We repeat: While it doesn’t require large outlays of cash, it does take time. And it can definitely work for you.

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