If you run a small, traditional business in your local area – you might think social media isn’t for you. That’s a big mistake. Many small business owners think things like social media are best left to big, online businesses – but they’re missing out on so many potential benefits.
You need to make your social media presence a priority, regardless of the industry you operate in or the size of your business. Actually, there are a number of key benefits even for small, traditional businesses in the local area. We’re going to look at why social media could be what you’re business needs to take a step up – and how to make the most of it.
How To Use Social Media To Promote Your Local Business
Social media is a fantastic marketing tool
It used to be hard to retain customers or to communicate with those who’ve visited you before. Reaching out to potential new customers is one thing – but simply being able to talk to those who’ve already done business with you used to be difficult. Many businesses would simply “sell stuff” and let their customers walk out the door without ever hearing from them again. Social media has changed this dramatically.
People don’t want to just spend money in a shop anymore – they want to feel part of something. Instead of just treating your customers like money farms – social media gives you the chance to interact with them both before and after they’ve made a purchase.
If someone “likes” your business – they’re doing more than just spending money with you. They’re promoting you to their friends, free of charge. These sort of marketing opportunities are like hitting the jackpot. If you can keep active on Twitter and Facebook with your customers, you’ll help spread the word even further. This sort of marketing reach used to be impossible for small businesses – or at least expensive to cultivate. Now social media makes it easy – and free.
Social media increases brand loyalty
Getting someone to “like” your business is more than just a great marketing tool – it also helps grow loyalty to your brand. If someone “likes” you, they’re going a step further than just spending money in your store. They’re showing you loyalty. Again, people who already like you will be far more likely to return to spend money again and again.
Don’t take your social media followers for granted and offer them something exceptional for their loyalty. If you get the offer just – your social media following should continue to grow.
How can you encourage existing customers to connect with you on social media?
Firstly – don’t keep your social media presence a secret in your business. If you’ve got a store – make some big posters with your Twitter or Facebook addresses and display them prominently. You could even put them outside on the off chance that people who haven’t even been in your store might follow you (although it’s more likely you’ll get followers from existing customers).
Print your social media profiles on your receipts so that every customer has a copy.
To take things a step further – offer incentives for following your business on social media. Make your customers aware that they’ll get exclusive special offers tweeted or posted on Facebook. Give them a real reason to follow you.
If you make sure your staff is trained to promote your social media presence as often as possible – you should start to see your following grow.
If you can offer your followers exclusive special offers that they can’t get elsewhere, they might even tell their friends about it – so you’ll get even more business. Don’t just treat it as a one-way street, either. Offer contests and other offers that get people involved as another way to grow brand loyalty.
How social media can be a powerful tool for your business
You need to realize that social media isn’t just for chatting with friends – it’s an important business tool. Many businesses are starting to ask themselves how they even managed before social media.
Imagine collecting hundreds of phone numbers and dialing customers one-by-one to tell them about an exciting new product launch or special offer. It would take hundreds of man-hours and would basically be pointless from a cost-benefit point of view. Now, one simple tweet or post could reach hundreds or even thousands of followers. Just a simple click of a button does all that marketing for you.
Social media is great for both communicating with existing customers AND reaching out to new ones. If you can grow an effective and active social media presence with your existing customer-base, you should start to see things filter through to a wider audience in your community.
Handling complaints on social media
You also need to make sure you always address people’s concerns or complaints quickly and effectively. One of the downsides of social media is that people will often use it to vent about your business if they feel they’ve had a raw deal or something didn’t quite go as expected.
These sorts of issues can actually be turned around and used to your advantage. When dealing with complaints – you need to go about and beyond in order to put things right – even if that means giving away something for free. Negative rumors about your business can spread quickly, and anyone who feels harshly treated will probably not return.
Make sure negative comments about your business on social media are responded to politely and effectively. Offer unhappy customers a discount or a chance to try something different in the hope they’ll return and change their opinion. Don’t let negative comments go unchallenged.
How to manage your social media presence
If you’re not that good with this sort of thing, you can hire third-party social media management firms to take care of it for you. For a small business, this probably isn’t necessary. Simply make sure you check your accounts regularly and respond to comments promptly.
If you want, you can “promote” one of your more tech-savvy members of staff to “social media manager” and let them take care of things.
See also: 6 Facebook Marketing Tips for Local Businesses