Social media sites have proved to be an effective way of marketing, but is it for every business?
Many businesses, both large and small, have discovered social media sites to be a blessing in disguise — literally — for marketing purposes. Social networking is hugely popular with people of all ages, and is even increasingly becoming more prevalent with the older generations, which shows exactly how pervasive it is. A majority of people admit to spending at least an hour or two a week on social media sites, keeping up with friends, playing games, and browsing other pages.
It is exactly this pervasiveness that makes social media sites such an effective way of marketing. Businesses can set up a page of their own, which individuals then “like” or “tweet,” depending on which social networking site you are using. And, typically, when one friend likes your page, their friends will see that in their news feed, and like it too. In this manner brand awareness can spread like wildfire in a relatively short amount of time, by using people’s already existing social networks to market your business.
One of the benefits about using social networking to promote your business is that it’s free. Sure, if you hire someone to handle your online marketing for you, you’ll need to pay them, but you won’t have to pay additional costs to run ads, print flyers, or buy mailing lists. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and most other social sites are free services. (Advertising on these sites may cost more, but most businesses find they don’t need to.)
Because of its inherent flexibility, social networking lends itself to a variety of different kinds of industries. Here are a few examples:
Authors, singers, and other artists – MySpace made its name as a site where singers can promote themselves and their music. Authors and other artists have followed suit; you will find many authors’ pages on Facebook, for example.
Restaurants – Whether you run a small breakfast diner or a five star restaurant, social sites are a perfect place to announce specials, seasonal or limited time items on the menu, and other news that may interest hungry customers.
Specialty stores, such as bookstores, hobby stores, etc. – Specialty stores also have a place on social media sites. Bookstores frequently post about new releases, author signings, sales, and other news regular customers would be interested in. Art galleries make announcements when they get in new shipments, particularly when they get a large collection from one artist that art collectors might be interested in.
Insurance agents and insurance companies – A good insurance agent keeps in touch with his or her clients, usually with newsletters that mix useful information with local tidbits. Social media sites make a great place to link to your latest newsletters or send out other announcements, such as new product offerings, bundled deals, and any changes your clients should be aware of.
Events – Social media sites are great for reaching your target market with information they might need, which makes them great for events, too. Venues can post announcements of coming dates on their calendar, singers can let their fans know when they’ll be on tour, etc.
These are just a few examples; even if your industry is not on this list, use your imagination and think about how social networking sites can benefit you. For instance, by using social media sites you can:
Use promotions to encourage people to follow your page. One of the best ways to encourage people to follow your page is to offer something in return. For instance, an author might offer a free ebook download of an older work or a short story that is related to a current series he or she is working on. Another approach is to run a monthly drawing for a free giveaway, where one of your page’s fans is chosen at random.
Put your eggs in several different baskets. There are so many social networking sites that you should be able to greatly improve your chances of being successful in promoting your business. For instance, you will probably want to use a combination of general social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as specialized or “niche” sites, such as a forum for gamers, to better reach your target market.
Make daily contact with customers and potential customers. One of the best things about social networking is the ability to reach out to potential customers every day with a short but relevant post that will serve to remind them you’re here and hopefully encourage them to buy something. For instance, spotlighting a new book release helps a bookstore to sell that book by letting customers know it’s just come out. Writers block and forgetfulness could cause you to lose your perfect timing, though, so be sure to plan your posts out ahead of time. You can always change them if something comes up, but you can’t turn back the clock if you miss an opportunity!
There are many ways that just about any industry can use social sites in order to promote their business. Take some time to brainstorm how you can make social media sites work for you.
Guest Author – Mitch Thompson is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finances and small business. From car insurance quotes to investments, Mitch educates readers so that they can achieve financial success.