For some small business owners, social media marketing feels like a somewhat murky pond. Nearly everyone has at least dipped their toe in the water, but many still aren’t sure what they’re supposed to be fishing for. Relationships? Exposure? Customers? The return-on-investment isn’t always clear. So why invest?
In a nutshell, social media helps add value to your business. Done right, it creates a direct link to current and potential customers, and provides you with cost-effective channels that can be used for everything from real-time customer service to employee recruitment—and yes, even sales.
Here are seven ways to add value to your business through social media marketing:
- Listen and learn: Social media is a great platform not just to talk to customers, but to listen to them. You can easily monitor what competitors are doing on social media, stay on top of trends covered by local or trade media outlets, and follow the conversation around your industry or local region.
- Attract new customers: From tweeting an exclusive new client special to spreading the word online about an open house, social media marketing is a great way to tell people about your business and win new clientele.
- Become easier to find: Your social media profiles offer a valuable (and usually free) place to list your business, location, hours, web address and info about your products or services. As long as your profile settings are set to be publicly searchable, these business listings are an easy way for customers to find you online.
- Build brand ambassadors: When you create compelling content—like a giveaway, a relevant inspirational quote or a great video—ask your loyal customers to like it and share it with their friends and followers. This can exponentially increase your business’ reach, and also builds brand affinity and relationships with your best customers. You can even provide exclusive promo codes or offers for your social media followers to reward your fans.
- Solve problems in real time: Twitter in particular has become a powerful customer service channel. Consumers like that their problems can be addressed in real time without waiting on hold on the phone. Social media also gives customers the power to easily share their positive or negative experiences with others. For small business owners, this is an opportunity to directly respond to reviews and fix problems in a way that shows others you care about making things right.
- Find top talent: Social media marketing doesn’t just bring in fresh clients, it can also help you gather top talent. You can link to job listings, announce participation at job fairs, or post short videos from current employees talking about why they love working at your company.
- Show, don’t tell: Sure, you can place an ad or send out a press release to tell people the latest news about your business. Social media allows you to show your brand at work, through photos, videos, live tweets, social media chats and more. This kind of interaction builds awareness and helps customers become more excited about your business and the people behind it.
Manta contributor Brooke Preston writes branding and digital marketing advice for small business owners. Manta helps small business owners succeed on their own terms with educational resources, digital marketing tools and services that are simple and effective.