Why Small Businesses Struggle with Social Media and What They Can do about it
A recent survey conducted by Manta, the popular online community for small businesses, showed that 90 percent of small business owners are involved in networking online. Of those, 74 percent believe networking online is just as, if not more, valuable than networking in person. Almost 50 percent of the small business owners surveyed believe that targeting and gaining prospective customers is the most valuable benefit of networking online.
However, the large number of online and social media channels that exist makes it challenging for small business owners to effectively navigate and properly use them.
- 58 percent of small business owners say they have a difficult time finding value in using Facebook for promoting their business. Pinterest and Groupon, two popular consumer websites, have proven to be ineffective for small businesses.
- Many small business owners struggle with social media because they donât have the budget to hire a social media marketing expert or they donât have staff members with enough free time to learn how to effectively use social media.
- Many of the online articles that provide social media tips for small business owners are not specific enough, and what’s worse, many of the articles contradict each other, making it very difficult for small business owners to confidently create a social media marketing plan.
- Many small business owners fail to gain an audience through social media platforms and increase sales because they either donât have a substantial amount of content or enough engaging content to keep folks interested.
- Unfortunately, many small businesses simply donât try to engage people at social media sites; they instead annoy prospective customers by bombarding them with promotional messages. Many small businesses fail to nurture social media relationships. Instead, theyâre just looking for a quick sale.
15 Tips to Effectively Use Social Media for Small Business
- One of the best ways to learn how to use social media is to learn how other small businesses, especially those in your niche, use it successfully. Follow some successful brands on Twitter and see how they engage their audiences.
- Work on becoming an authority in your niche at social media websites.
- Increase your online popularity with how-to videos. Create a custom channel on YouTube; video thumbnails in search results attract people more than text does. Videos also help you get to the top of search results. Most people spend significantly more time watching video than reading web pages. Provide how-to tips that your competitors donât provide. Create a collection of short instructional videos about your products or services which include testimonials from happy customers. Make sure your videos are three minutes or less.
- Be social with Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites; donât just announce products and services.
- Run competitions on Twitter and Facebook.
- Ask bold or interesting questions to provoke a reaction from your Twitter followers.
- Encourage people to retweet your content.
- Use Facebook to show visitors what youâre passionate about.
- Create a custom welcome tab on your Facebook page. Use a call-of-action to encourage non-fans to become fans. After you get the “Like,” offer a valuable free item in exchange for their name and email address.
- At your Facebook page or blog, create a list of interesting questions and provide insightful answers to the questions online. Provide new questions and answers every day.
- Work to obtain links to your site from authoritative blogs in your niche or a related niche. Offering to write guest posts is one why to do this.
- Providing content that solves your visitorsâ problems builds trust and the content may get linked to and shared with others.
- Start a blog and ask visitors to participate. Effective blogs include bold headings and plenty of images. Provide a call-to-action at the bottom of every blog post. Ask visitors to leave a comment, share the blog post at one of their favorite social media sites, or click on a link for information about a product.
- Post funny photographs or humorous short stories that are relevant to your business.
- Be responsive to your audience. Business is all about relationships, so be generous to people and take a genuine interest in them.
Small businesses that have had success with social media have found that what works online is much like works offline — offering specific value that’s relevant to their customers, friends, and fans.
What tips might you add for small business success with social media?
Thank you, Brian! Great advice!
— ME “Liz” Strauss