Social Media Guide for Small Businesses on Facebook and Twitter

Crafting a small business social media strategy is essential in today’s market. Social media both draws attention to your business and increases sales.

Unlike traditional advertising, social media allows small businesses to advertise very cheaply, using innovative strategies that deliver real value along with reputation-building. A small business that can effectively use outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to deliver audience-specific content, thus drawing attention to a product or service, will vastly expand its reputation through the power of a quick, efficient recommendations stream.

Developing a Social Media Strategy Based on Real Value

Social media promotion can be a tricky business. If your Facebook page or Twitter stream is full of nothing but traditional advertisements and pleas to buy a product or service, you’re unlikely to get many followers for your business. People follow a small business on their social media feeds because they are already interested in a business and want to know about deals and new products, or because they believe that the business will deliver real value through its social media outlets.

What does “real value” mean? The real value is something that a social media user wants, whether it’s a sale or freebie offer, a useful application, or interesting news. Small businesses can deliver this value by working their business name unobtrusively into a desired application (for example, a database of recipes using an edible product), providing news on a related topic (a small investment firm Tweeting about market trends), or of course by providing discounts and free stuff as a loyalty measure for following a Twitter feed or liking a Facebook page.

Providing valuable information or applications, whether directly through the social media stream or through a link, builds a businesses reputation and makes following that business desirable. If a user follows a business for its informative daily updates on health news, for example, that person is unlikely to mind the occasional promotional pitch or notice about a new product. Real value also means that a user is more likely to recommend that feed to his or her friends–and that’s the value of social media.

How to Implement Social Media Promotion for a Small Business

Small business owners need to be aware of the relative value of a social media presence and decide accordingly how much time and money to devote to it. Social media does require constant effort–most Twitter feeds are updated at least 2-3 times a day, while Facebook pages can be updated a few times a week. Social media is also most effective when integrated with a business’s website, blog, and/or e-mail lists.

The best strategy is to have one staff member do all the social media for a business, and for that person to be thoroughly trained in how social media works. This staff member should be responsible for Tweeting and updating the Facebook page, but also for keeping the business’s social media presence interactive.

No one likes a social media user who only talks about himself, and the same goes for businesses. For example, the social media staff member might re-Tweet mentions of the business or interesting related news that other users are Tweeting, post links to affiliated business’s content on Facebook, and manage @ replies to the business on Twitter.

When it comes to creating value, sometimes it is useful to hire a consultant. For example, the one-time cost of hiring someone to create a mobile application with embedded promotional material that can then be shared around the social network is likely to have considerable long-term value.

The key to social media for small businesses is to be interactive, keep up with the pace of social media, and keep delivering fresh real value that followers can depend on. Never let a social media feed lag empty, and always thank users who recommend you to their friends. You never know how these small efforts will pay off in the long run.