How to get more social media reach for your business

The main benefits of social media for your business include increased exposure and a potential boost to your website traffic.

The main benefits of social media for your business include increased exposure and a potential boost to your website traffic. You can also use social media to collect insights into your marketplace by analysing what customers and prospects are saying about your business – and your competitors.

Social media continues to gain attention as a marketing channel – Facebook alone now has over 1 billion users, while Twitter account holders broadcast over 400 million tweets each day. Your new business clearly needs to participate.

Social media can do great things for small businesses – if it's used correctly. You've probably heard the term ‘social media marketing.’ One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when developing a social media presence is to use it as an advertising platform.

The continued rise of social media

The Internet has had a huge influence in changing the nature of the relationship between the consumer and business. Today, much of that influence stems from social media.

The most popular social media platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and blogging. Each platform carries unique benefits, so most online marketers typically work with at least two platforms to enjoy combined benefits (for example, tweets on Twitter work well to pull readers to a blog).

That’s why it’s important for businesses to understand and take advantage of these tools. They offer many ways to showcase your expertise, provide value-added information to customers, and market your business – and they won’t set you back a lot of money. Here’s a primer to get you started.

Think of it as a party

Would you show up at your friend's house and launch into a sales pitch with the host or with people you've never met? If you talk about business it won't be until you've developed a rapport with someone, and interest in the topic came up naturally.

Be yourself

Your brand has a personality and social media is the perfect place to show it. The posts you share should tell the world:

  • What you stand for.
  • What's unique about you.
  • What’s different about the way you do business.

Be genuine, be entertaining and be helpful. Ask questions and take the time to interact with others. People will remember you for the way you engage with them, even if it's a brief comment, a shared link, or a different take on a trending event.

Blogging for business

Blogging is an inexpensive way to brand yourself and your business. The good news is that many free templates are available that make it easy for you to set up a blog and allow readers, customers, and potential customers to post comments. Two of the most common templates are Wordpress and Blogger.

To engage your reader, focus on adding value, as opposed to the hard sell. That means sharing your ideas generously and offering tips that readers and potential customers can actually use. For example, if you operate a bakery, post recipes and nutritional tips that benefit readers.

The power of Twitter

Twitter is a social media phenomenon. ‘Tweets,’ as they are known, are short messages (technically micro-blogs) that are posted instantly to a community of individuals — or ‘followers’ — who opt to receive them. Unlike a blog, which can be as long as you want it to be, Twitter only allows for 140-character posts.

Like blogging, Twitter can be a cost-effective way to network and build your brand. It’s also a good way to notify your customers of special deals or the arrival of new products, especially if you offer niche products or services.

Keep in mind that though blogging and tweeting are inexpensive ways to connect with customers, they still require time and effort. If you’re going to blog, make sure you have something new, interesting, or useful to say and try to post at least a few times a week. Twitter demands less writing on your part, but you if you start to use it, try to ‘tweet’ every day. Make a point of seeing what other businesses, large and small, are doing with Twitter.

Have a strategy in place

While not every small business will want to go out and establish a Facebook page or a blog, it’s important to have a strategy in place. Here are some things to keep in mind as you develop your strategy.

  • Think long term. Social media is more about marketing than sales.
  • Establish two-way communication. Interacting with your customers can help you learn more about them and plant the seeds for future business opportunities.
  • Don’t overlook your website. It can also invite customers to share their feedback and be set up to offer customer support. If you are going to start a blog or join Twitter, promote these links on your company website.
  • Familiarize yourself with what works. That means researching how other companies, including your competitors, are using social media before you jump in.
  • Make a commitment. If you decide to start a blog, you should post at least two to three times per week. For Twitter, every day.

Keep in mind that creating a realistic plan and then taking steps to execute that plan can be the difference between a good idea and a marketing strategy that works.

Money isn’t the issue

Here’s the good news: it will cost your business very little money to participate in popular social media platforms. While some platforms such as LinkedIn do offer additional user features for a monthly subscription fee and the chance to purchase advertising space, most platforms are free to use. In fact, 59% of small businesses in North America spend less than $100 on social media.

The bigger cost of social media marketing is time and content.

Budget enough time

It takes a commitment to see results from social media platforms – and that’s what scares away many busy business owners and leaders. Social media only works if you participate regularly.

  • According to industry research, 62% of marketers are using social media for about 6 hours a week.

Delegate or do it yourself?

Of course, there’s no rule that you must do all of the social media yourself. Some business owners and leaders enjoy the interaction of social media, while others delegate the responsibility to a trusted vendor or employee.

Next steps