Social Media is nothing new these days. Everyone from grandmothers to first graders have their own Twitter or Facebook page. With comScore reporting a 25% increase in unique visitors to social media sites in June, 2008 compared to June, 2007, social media needs to be in every small business marketing plan.
The problem is, how can small businesses find customers via social media with such a saturation of users? Here are some tips that can help:
1. Focus On the Big Names First
Open accounts on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to start. Every small business with an online presence - whether you actually sell products online or simply have a site for your brick and mortar business - should have an account with them. They are all easy to set up and free. Be sure to create a Facebook Fan Page for your business, rather than a typical Profile Page.
2. Brand Your Pages
Twitter, Facebook and MySpace all allow you to customize your pages in some way. Be sure not to use the default templates each site offers you. Facebook and Twitter even allow you to have your own vanity URL, meaning if you own a pizza parlor, your Facebook URL could be "facebook.com/"yourpizzaparlor" (some qualifications must be met).
Create a 200 x 200 image containing your business name, logo and contact information for Twitter. You can also use this template or simply create it in Word or Powerpoint (just remember to save it as a PDF document).
Facebook does not yet allow you to customize your entire Fan Page, but you can create an image that contains your business name and logo and upload it. This way, every update or post you create contains your image.
MySpace allows you to customize nearly every aspect of your page. Be sure to upload an image of your business name and logo (use the Facebook image you created) as your profile image, and create a background containing either your business colors, themes or your logo.
3. Add Unique Content
Unique content can be created easily for even the smallest businesses as well as those that do not even sell their products online. Go beyond basic written content explaining the mission of your small business, the products or services you offer and your location (though all of those ARE necessary). Give your potential customers something unique that will make them want to visit your website and/or business location, and eventually return. Videos, photos, polls and contests are just a few forms of content that can make your page stand out.
For example, a bakery that only sells its products direct from their location could make a short, documentary-style video of their baking facility. An online jewelry site could upload images of some of their newest pieces. A florist located in Los Angeles with only an informational website could post a poll on Twitter and Facebook asking people what their favorite summer flower might be, and then responding to those who answer with a special offer.
Note: Every business should at least have one short video on their website, Facebook and MySpace page for three reasons:
1.Video is one of the most easily consumable forms of online content.
2.It is easy to make (most digital cameras or phones can make a decent video).
3.It can be easily shared online.
4. Advertise Your Pages
One you have all of your pages up and running with some content and pertinent information, make sure to advertise them properly. Each site has its own name for what you would simply call a "potential customer":
1.Facebook Business Pages have "Fans"
2.Twitter pages have "Followers
3.MySpace pages have "Friends"
Create links to each of your pages using logos, text or both, and place them in a prominent position on your website. Make sure to include those same logos/links on every email you send out to your email list.
5. Engage Directly
The best advantage social media advertising holds over any other form of advertising (besides being free) is the ability it gives you to interact with customers and potential customers. Be sure to take advantage of this fact the moment your business pages are up and running. Start by making friends: just use each site's search tools to find people who might be writing about or searching for the kind of products you offer.
Facebook will take care of some of the work by suggesting some people you should "invite" to become fans of your business, but be sure to also search for your own. Try looking for similar businesses and invite fans of their pages.
Twitter will also suggest users to follow who will then follow you. However, search.twitter.com is an invaluable tool for any business because it can immediately put you into contact with people who might want what you sell. Let's use the bakery example again: Go to search.twitter.com and search for "breakfast pastries Los Angeles". You will be given a long list of every individual on Twitter who has recently typed in the phrase "breakfast pastries" as well as the location "Los Angeles". Some might simply be talking about a great breakfast pastry they just finished, but others might be asking for a great bakery in the Los Angeles area for breakfast pastries. Now is your chance to engage them directly and suggest your bakery.
By using these tips when setting up your social media pages, you will be on your way to breaking through the throngs of users and finding genuinely new customers to help make your small business even more profitable.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2577880