If you’re running a small business today or thinking of starting one, you’ve no doubt heard of the benefits of social media in marketing that small business to the world. Of course, here at BizSugar we’re passionate about both small business and the use of social media as a marketing and networking tool.
Social media involves using a growing number of powerful free or low cost online tools to promote your brand and create referrals from prospects, customers, clients and others all over the world or in your specific geographic area by allowing Internet users to share your content or link to it easily in e-mails or from other Websites (including small business news sites like BizSugar.com.)
Social media is also a great way of putting out your own news on the Web and creating more vibrant interactive content more attractive to both readers and search engines than more traditional business Websites.
Here are some ways your small business can join the social media revolution at little or no cost today:
Create a blog.
A blog is simply a Website designed to be updated quickly and easily in the form of “posts” or individual articles usually listed in consecutive order with the most recent at the top of the page. Blogs allow anyone, even someone with limited computer experience, to create articles about their family, friends, business or any other subject they wish. What you are reading is an example of a blog on the WordPress platform. Other popular platforms included TypePad, a paid service, and Blogger, a free blog service run by search engine Google. Though Worpress offers a free service, if you wish to use your blog for commercial purposes and want your own distinctive Web address you will need to seek paid hosting services. Once you’ve picked a blog format, simply begin creating blog posts, articles related to your business. Remember to use keywords related to your business in your title, tags and article. These are words a person might use if they were searching for your business online. For example, if you are a plumber, you might use the keywords “plumbing contractor” and add a keyword or two based on the geographic area where you provide service. Read more on how to create a business blog in minutes.
Create a Facebook fanpage.
Of course, everyone is familiar with Facebook, the huge social media network that began as a way to connect with friends and family but is now a major tool of small business as well. Did you know you could promote your business on Facebook for free with the creation of a Facebook fanpage? To get started, simply visit the Facebook homepage and select the highlighted option to “create a page” for your small business. Fill out the pertinent information, upload a photo or two and some contact information and begin inviting customers via a link on your Website to join your fanpage via a “like” button at the top of your Facebook page. You can then begin regular information and links to articles or other resources related to your business using the simple update tool. (If you run an accounting service, for example, you might post links to articles on federal tax law, changes to the tax code etc. The content would be shared instantly with anyone who has joined you fan site. For more, read this editorial guide on how to create a Facebook fanpage.
Get your LinkedIn on.
LinkedIn is a powerful professional social media site which allows you to create a profile for yourself or your business and connect with other related businesses or prospective client by connecting with others who maintain profiles on the site, the digital equivalent of either collecting names in a giant online rolodex or collecting business cards at a local chamber of commerce mixer. As in the case of Facebook, you can then use the simple status update tool to regularly broadcast information and news related to your business to everyone with whom you’ve connected. There also groups to join in a wide variety of niche’s including probably one in your industry. Here’s more on how to create a LinkedIn group for your business today!
Entering the Twitterverse
Twitter is the powerful microblogging platform growing by leaps and bounds. Joining Twitter and creating an account for your business is easy and takes only minutes. Simply go to the Twitter main page and hit the “sign up” button to begin. Though posts on Twitter are limited to 140 characters, you can add links to related posts about news and other information related to your business by creating a shortened Web address at sites like Bit.ly. You can also “retweet” or “reply” to the tweets of others by clicking simple buttons on each post. You can also follow others and approve others who have followed you by clicking on the “follow” button at the top of another member’s account. Once you are following or being followed by another member on Twitter, your regular updates, or “Tweets,” appear in each others feed streams. To locate other members you may wish to follow, use the search window halfway down the main page of your Twitter account or Twitter will make suggestions based on your profile and Tweets. Here’s more on how to use Twitter to grow your small business.
Join a niche community
Now consider joining a niche community in your industry. One example might be a community like BizSugar.com for those operating or starting a small business. Joining BizSugar and many other social media sites is free and easy and allows you to share content related to the community’s niche, in this case small business, comment on the submissions of others and, in some cases, vote or some other respect show approval for your fellow site members. On BizSugar, for example, members can add links on small business news, tips and related topics, include comments on the link in the summary section, comment on links provided by other members, vote on your favotites which are then collected on the front pages of the site where they are shared with all visitors and even favorite articles and friend other members to help keep track of your favorite contributors. Here’s how to use BizSugar.com for marketing and branding your small business online.
Social media can make a huge difference for your small business in terms of generating referrals, promoting your brand and connecting with future customers, clients or partners quickly and easily. Making your small business more social has never been easier. Why not get started today!