While many companies still spend millions of dollars on various marketing campaigns, smaller businesses have turned to easier – and in many cases – more effective methods of getting the word out about their business. Social media has transformed the marketing world because it connects you with millions of people online 24/7 and it doesn’t cost a dime.
One of the best parts is that there isn’t just one or two social media networks that you can join up with. While some of the main ones are important and should be given some serious consideration – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – there are many more that are either gaining strength or have been relatively strong throughout the past several years without bothering to become the giants that other sites have become. Here is a quick list of some that you may or may not have heard of: Google+, LinkedIn, Bebo, Flickr, Foursquare, MySpace, and Meetup. If your business specializes in a certain area, you may find some sites more useful than others. LibraryThing is a hotspot for booklovers, DeviantArt is an artists’ arena, and Crunchyroll is where anime fans congregate.
Some of these locations are easier to work into your business plans than others. For example, it’s easier to become an entity on Facebook, but DeviantArt supports individuals and their artwork – not businesses. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t request to include ads on their webpages, but that, of course, defeats the purpose of free marketing. Start with some of the bigger networks first and then see if there are ways to work your business into the niche networks.
Don’t be Like Everyone Else
One of the keys to really make your business stand out in front when it comes to social media is to avoid doing what a lot of businesses tend to do these days. A lot of businesses tend to throw out, “Like us on Facebook!” and leave it at that. People are beginning to resent businesses on Facebook because they originally arrived at those locations to connect with friends and family members not with companies. They consider companies cold entities that are, in truth, using social networks as a means of advertisement. You need to discover ways to distinguish your business from others in order to connect with people on a much more personal level.
You need to give people a reason to Like your business on Facebook or hit the +1 button for Google. More than that, you need to give them reasons to include you in their Friend list or to follow you on Twitter. Creating customers is great – but when you can create customers who love nothing more than to share your greatness, that’s even better.
Results and Face Time
A great way to give your free marketing a boost is to dedicate one or two employees to the social media sites you’ve joined and turn them into the face(s) of your company. Some CEOs are happy to do this themselves. The goal is to make people more comfortable in knowing that there are actual people behind those sites. This allows actual, personal responses to go out to those who comment or tweet on your social media profiles. You can surprise them by offering unexpected discounts or gifts to people who offer great ideas or useful feedback. Think of your free marketing as tied in with your customer service. It is much easier for people to share company experiences than ever before – and the more positive things they can say about you, the better.
Because social media requires you to be social, don’t be afraid to show off videos, images, or other aspects of your business that give people a better chance to connect with your business. Show them the results of charity that you help with donations from customers. Let them see into your business so they stop thinking of it as an entity and more like the hard working group of people that it is.
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