Every Small Business needs to have an online marketing strategy that supports their offline presence. Here’s a simple social media strategy that every small business can utilize to help grow their business.

  • Social Media Presence – If you haven’t already done so, take some time and properly implement a social media strategy for your company. If your not talking about your company online, via social media, chances are someone else is. Make sure you control the story. There are many tools to help monitor what people are saying about you or your company. You can monitor what people are saying about your company’s brand, services and products by subscribing to free online monitoring services like Hootsuite, Google Alerts and Twilert. These same services are a great way to stay informed about your competition. All these services allow you to target your results by keywords, company names or general terms that help define your query. So once you realize that people are talking about your company or your competition, you’ll want to participate in the conversation so that you can help steer the conversation in the right direction. The following social media platforms are a must for every small business owner to participate in.

Twitter: Twitter just might be the greatest online marketing tool your company can have, and its free! Take a look at this video clip by TechCrunch which interviews UCF’s Dana White. Take a look at this info graphic by KissMetrics. There are over 1 billion tweets posted per week. As a Small Business owner, you have a particular expertise in a certain area. Its important for you to create a twitter account and talk about the things that can help other people. Things you can and should write about are topics related to the services and products your company offers. Always write with a flare for giving advice freely. In addition, ask your customers to follow you on Twitter. Use the platform as a way for communicating special offers and deals relating to your business. Starbucks has a great social media success story that every small business can benefit from. The Next Web did a recent story on their social media strategy here. The great thing about twitter is that people will find and follow you if you have something to say. It also allows you to follow what are people are saying. Go to twitter and sign up for a free account. They recently launched brand pages which is similar to Facebook Pages for business. It allows you to set up a brand page for your business. Don’t worry about “writers block”. The cool thing about Twitter is that you can re tweet other peoples tweets. Make sure you follow people that have similar services and products and don’t be afraid to share or re tweet their stories. Follow these Twitter steps:

  1. Sign up – Reserve your name before someone else does.
  2. Upload your logo: Spend a few dollars and hire a graphic design company to really make your Twitter page pop. I personally recommend Gamby Studios.
  3. Link your Twitter account to your website, business cards and brochures.
  4. Follow Industry Leading people that have similar interests to you.
  5. Tweet: make sure to tweet or re tweet relevant information.
  6. Down load a Twitter Application on your Cell Phone. I suggest Tweetcaster or Hootsuite.
  7. Check out TwitHawk: A great way to send direct tweets to people who are talking about your industry, services or products…. in real time! Its kinda like Google AdWords but for Twitter. Its a great advertising platform that allows you to send direct messages to people that need or talk about your product.
  8. Check out 48ers too. Free service that allows you to send direct messages back to people ( in real time). Set up keywords to track and let the application do the rest. It will show you real time results in both Facebook and Twitter. Great way to market your company in real time but just make sure you have time to manage this properly.

LinkedIn: According to several leading social media sites, LinkedIn is fast becoming the most popular “sharing” button on both business and personal websites. With over 100 million users, I rank LinkedIn as the second best social media marketing tool for small businesses. ( Yes, even better than Facebook ). A properly set profile allows users to opt in for business venture requests from other users. If your company is a b2b service then LinkedIn is the place. This is not a viral marketing strategy. Most people are professional decision makers that can be targeted based on their set profiles. My advise would be to pay for a premium service plan. Check out the ad platform and run a few targeted campaigns.

Facebook: The 10,000 pound gorilla is my 3rd pick for social media marketing. No other site with the exception of maybe StumbleUpon and Reddit gets more page views on a daily basis. By now, if your reading this you already have a Facebook account. Now take the next step and create your Brand Page. Every business is slowly but surely creating a Facebook Page and you should too. Once your page is up and running head over to Wildfire Promotion Builder for contests, coupons, group deals, and sweepstakes. Its a great way for you to have your own personal Groupon. Wildfire also has great tool for Brand Pages Design.

Google+: Google+ pages are just starting to create some buzz. Not fully released to the public but soon every business will be able to create their own page for their business. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Get Started Early: Don’t wait. Although not as popular as Facebook pages, Google+ pages will be very beneficial to your business in the long run.
  2. Call to Action for customers: make sure you get your visitors to join one of your “circles” Keep them updated on interested products and services and invite them to “hangout”.
  3. Don’t Confuse: Unlike Facebook, Google+ allows you to create multiple pages for your brands and products. Just be careful not to go overboard. Simple is better.
  4. Website+1 button: make sure you have one on your website so people can share your website with other Google+ friends. Google also measures the relevancy of your website by several factors which now include how many people use the Google+ button on your website.
  5. Use a Google+ URL shortener: The URL Google gives you for the brand page is very long and not good for marketing. Several companies offer a service where they can assign your Google+ URL a better and shorter string.
  6. Its not FACEBOOK: Google+ users are a little different than most other social media users. The platform tend to attract a much more tech savvy user. Make sure your comments and content is relevant to your business and don’t deviate into babble diatribe.

Note: Facebook will be releasing a new “Coupon” application, currently in Beta. Should be a great way for businesses to start offering coupon deals similar to Groupon but much more effective and much cheaper.

Company Blog: I personally suggest Tumblr. Its a free service with great templates to choose from. Posting articles in Tumblr can automatically be sent to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Blogs have much higher relevance to search engines and can be a huge boost to Search Engine Optimization for your website. make sure your articles are well written and unique in content. Don’t steal or scrape information from other sources. ( Search Engines like Google can quickly figure out that your information has been stolen. They wont index your site if they find this out. ) Take time to write good content or hire a company to do this for you. There are plenty of services out there that provide copy writing as a fee. Feel free to have one blog or many blogs but just make sure you update on a continuous basis and be the expert in your field. make your content so good that people will want to share your information with other friends and people.

YouTube: Create your own YouTube channel. Try creating something unique. If people like your video, they share it with potentially hundreds or thousands of people and pretty soon you have a viral campaign. YouTube now has a video ad platform. Online media marketing is big business. Spend some money and create a company video that explains your business and services. Its a great way for people to learn more about you without reading boring text on a website.

Ezine by Dan E Yetman