Social Media Marketing: A Small Business Primer

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Leveraging social media marketing is just plain smart if you’re a small business on a budget. How else can you reach thousands of customers and prospects all over the globe without zero advertising costs?

But this new way of marketing can be overwhelming, frustrating, and downright confusing. To get you started, here are some of the most common questions my clients ask me about social media marketing:

Which sites are essential for social media marketing?
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are the most trafficked social media sites. You don’t have to use all of these tools, but it’s helpful to at least set up a profile on all of them. Don’t get overwhelmed! Learn and implement one at a time, then focus on the one that has the highest return on investment for your business.

Our course on Social Media Marketing can help you get a feel for these networks, too.

How can I save time when marketing on social media?
Preschedule your status updates and use tools that can update multiple social media properties at once. My favorite free tool for doing this is HootSuite.com. But watch out for terminology that’s specific to one social network. For example, it can be confusing to post a status update that uses mentions or hashtags (technology that’s specific to Twitter) on Facebook. So when you’re posting across networks, make sure your message works across all the different social media sites that you’re posting to.

Which social media site should I spend the most time on?
The social media site that most of your prospects are on is the best one for you. In the begining, you will need to experiment with different sites. The great thing about social media is that you can track – exactly where your clicks are coming from, which site is sending you the highest-converting traffic, etc. So it really takes the guesswork out of seeing which site is most effective for you.

How often do I need to be on social media to make my marketing succeed?
You have to be realistic about the time you have. Social media is fast-moving, and it’s much better to be on frequently in very quick bursts than it is to put an hour in once a week. Check out my video, Twitter in 10 Minutes a Day for a timeline on how to effectively leverage Twitter in just 10 minutes.

Is social media marketing useful for every business?
Social media marketing is useful for every business that has customers who are using the internet. If your business serves a country that doesn’t have the internet, or if all of your buyers are over the age of 85 then maybe social media marketing isn’t for you!

My business is offline, can I still use social media to collect leads for my business?
Absolutely! Social media is just a communications channel. So in the same way that you aren’t closing people via a radio ad or postcard mailing, you can use social media even if you have nothing to sell online. Focus your efforts on leading people toward the sale – whether that’s a phone consultation with you or a visit to your store.

How can a local business use social media marketing?
Use social media to up the “know, like, and trust” factor with your business. Build relationships, make friends with customers and prospects, and let people know what’s going on with your business. Send out content that lets prospects get to know your philosophy and offerings without having to take up your time with one-on-one conversations.

Does social media marketing really work?
Yes! “Social media” is a term that just encompasses new ways of talking to prospects and clients online. And talking to people is always an effective way to market your business!

Is social media marketing expensive?
Yes and no! The tools are free, so social media marketing is largely an investment of time. As a small business owner, time is a valuable resource and you likely don’t have the capital to hire a department just to manage your social media outreach. But overall, social media is a MUCH more cost-effective strategy than any traditional form of display advertising. Social media marketing continues to build your reputation and bring in leads even when you’re not actively building it out. Ads are gone completely once you stop paying for them.

Who can I hire to do my social media marketing for me?
I strongly advise that you have someone on your own team conduct your day-to-day social media marketing activities. Here’s why: at its core, social media marketing is a way to have leveraged conversations with your clients. If someone is going to be interfacing with your clients and prospects they need to know your business well.

That being said, it’s wise to bring in outside help to establish a social media marketing strategy that you or your team can carry out and implement. Check out my Creating Fame program for a top-to-bottom social media strategy.

What’s the next big thing in social media marketing?
I don’t like to spend time speculating, but the good news is you don’t have to. As a small business, you don’t want to be ahead of the trends you want to be right on them. That’s because you really don’t want to mess with a tool until it achieves critical mass – what good is spending your time on a site so cutting edge and new that none of your customers are there yet? Don’t worry about every little update, this is an area where you want to be “mainstream”.

How can I test out social media to see if it will work for my business?
Just jump in and give it a go! The great thing about social media is there’s no cost and very little time involved in getting it up and running. If you need help setting up your account, see Zero to Facebook or Your Backstage Pass to Twitter inside Social Media Marketer.

If it doesn’t work for you, you can always delete your accounts but give it time. Remember that social media feels “weird” for everyone when they’re first starting.


For more information on social media marketing, check these posts out:

Social Media Marketing – What Every Business Owner Needs To Know. Learn what your “marketing goldmine” is, where you should always drive traffic to and what would happen if Twitter went away tomorrow.

Interacting With Your Social Media Peeps. Once you’ve found a few followers, what should you say on social media?

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