Four Ways to Use Social Media – Trying a new marketing approach

If you are not using social media for your small business yet, it may be time to start. At the very least, this marketing technique warrants a closer look. But it is not quite as simple as joining Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram and hoping for positive results. Here are four potential strategies to improve your efforts.

1. Aim at a specific target. The overall approach for a small business should not be the same as a mega-corporation with national awareness. Instead, you might devote more of your time and resources to find clients likely to use your goods or services.

For example, you may use software to monitor keywords and phrases related to your business. Besides tracking results, you can respond to inquiries and comments—both pro and con—in “real time.” The new technology should be a friend, not a foe.

2. Become more vocal. Unlike most traditional marketing methods, such as direct mail, or radio or TV advertising, social media is not a one-way street. This method gives you an opportunity to open a dialogue.

Typically, advocates want you to reciprocate. For instance, if someone took time to share a blog post you wrote or offer a positive review, show your appreciation. Some companies go further by asking “fans” for a testimonial or to provide a guest blog. Prove that you are truly listening to what others are saying.

3. Establish special offers. For those who are already enamored with your firm, it might only take a small nudge to bring them back into the fold or to have them expand their business dealings with you. As you thank them (see No. 2), consider offering an extra incentive, such as a volume discount, to renew acquaintances.

If people know that you value their input, they could become even stronger advocates. This is a way you might develop repeat customers.

4. Share and display content. Another social media technique is to find and share interesting content about certain topics with others. It is possible for a company of any size to develop effective marketing strategies based on content.

Build relationships with people by engaging them with content based on their interests. Do not just launch into a sales pitch right away. If your firm relies on consumers, share something interesting with your audience so the message will be perpetuated.

Similarly, you might tailor your content for various social networks. For instance, a tweet of just 50 characters may not work on other sites. Adapt to the format that is appropriate for a particular platform. Finally, encourage fans to return for shared content, as well as other messages and special offers (see No. 3).

There is no definitive “right” or “wrong” way to market a small business. But it is common sense to utilize social media to your advantage. As an added incentive, it is likely that your main business competitors have jumped into the fray.