Owners of small businesses are typically very busy people. They have many, many responsibilities -- from worrying about finances to running day-to-day operations. Sometimes they're so focused on the daily "to-do" list that they don't make marketing a priority, whether it's through word-of-mouth, direct, digital or social-media marketing. Or they just don't have the time. This weekly column will focus on how to decide if your small business should be using social media in the first place, what strategies you can use to increase customer engagement and possibly sales, let customers know about deals, and much, much more.
Small-business owners should constantly be thinking about how they can get new customers and keep existing ones happy. One way to do this is through social-media marketing, using online social networks to spread the word about your business either through organic posts or paid advertising.
It's important first to consider whether it makes sense for your business to use social media.
First, ask yourself, who are your customers? Do they use social media? What social networks do they use - Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? LinkedIn? YouTube? Etc.? (I'll be covering all these social networks in future columns.)
Ask current customers when they come in to your business to fill out a survey asking them:
If they use social media.
Which social networks they are active on.
What social network they use the most.
If they would want to receive information and promotions from your business via social media.
Small-business owners should also post a survey with the same questions on their business websites. Why? People who visit your website may include potential new customers, and most people looking into a business go to its website first. There are free online survey platforms such as SurveyMonkey that make this process quick and easy for small-business owners.
There are many reasons that small businesses should use social media. The beauty of social media is that people can share your content with their friends, hopefully leading to more customers.
I recently attended a Social Media Club meeting in Ellenville, N.Y., at Aroma Thyme Bistro, a healthy, gourmet-dining restaurant in The Catskills. There are more than 300 club chapters globally. The club's Twitter profile says "We explore key issues facing our society as technologies transform the way we connect, communicate, collaborate & relate to each other."
The owner of the bistro, Marcus Guiliano, is extremely active on social media. He and his wife, Jamie, said at the meeting that using social media is all about spreading positive news about their business; it's not about return on investment. They said they likely get new customers by being on social media, but that's not their purpose in using it. Aroma Thyme Bistro is on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Constant Contact and other social media platforms. I would encourage all small business owners to visit Aroma Thyme Bistro's social media accounts. They have a significant following on multiple platforms.
Page 2 of 2 - I will host a live Twitter chat this Thursday at 6 p.m. using hashtag #AskMarcus. Marcus Guiliano will be on hand to answer all your social media marketing-related questions until 7 p.m. If you don't know how a live Twitter chat works, shoot me an email at TimothyJSohn@gmail.com. I'd be happy to send you instructions.
See you online!
Editor's note: Tim Sohn is a freelance writer/editor and social media consultant from Pike County and is a correspondent for The News Eagle. Contact him at TimothyJSohn@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @editortim. (This column is distributed by More Content Now.)