The marketing world has long known that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of advertising, and social networking is the ultimate in word-of-mouth promotion. However, social media can be intimating for small business owners who have neither the time nor resources to devote to an all-out social networking marketing strategy. Start slowly by incorporating these sites into a marketing plan.
YouTube: Post Videos to the Web for Sharing.
YouTube presents a lot of possibilities for businesses looking to expand their web presence. Shoot a video tour of the facility and email the link to potential clients. Show off industry expertise with a training video, or a video version of a capabilities brochure. Ask satisfied customers to sit in front of the video camera and provide a reference for future customers. YouTube makes it easy to upload videos to the web for easy sharing and even easier searching.
Blog: Write Online to Share Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts.
Blogs have been created by everyone from moms wanting to share pictures of their kids to experts in their fields sharing advice, how-to’s, and industry trends. Take advantage of the knowledge accumulated within the business and share it!
Blogs are short bursts of information, and can include teasers that drive traffic to the business website or gets prospective customers to grab a phone and call to find out more. Create a blog through simple, pre-formatted sites like Blogger.com, Wordpress.com, or Typepad.com. Then include a link to the blog in every email sent from your company. Traffic will slowly increase as long as content is fresh – aim to post at least once a week with new product releases, short how-to videos, or information about what is going on within the business.
LinkedIn: Network with Business Connections.
LinkedIn is a social network for business contacts. Join the community and start searching for business associates. The value at LinkedIn comes with the groups that a user becomes a part of – professional associations, corporations, college alumni groups, and more. With each group, users have access to discussions, pertinent news stories that have been posted, and a professional networking system for asking questions, finding inventory, or searching for new employees.
Twitter can be silly or Twitter can be a powerful business tool, depending on how it is used. Think of it as quick emails to the masses – it’s estimated than up to five million people have Twitter accounts, with up to 5,000-10,000 new users per day, logging in to the site to share whatever is on their mind. Some share inspirational sayings, some use Twitter as a huge chat room, and others send links of recent blog posts or product reviews. Before a business writes Twitter off as not useful for marketing purposes, keep in mind that corporations like CNN, MSNBC, Rubbermaid, Kmart, and Build-A-Bear have a Twitter presence.
Facebook: Network with Personal Connections.
Facebook is a social network with a more personal twist, encompassing a series of networks that members can ‘join’ to keep in touch with happenings for social causes and business entities. Facebook may not make a huge impact in a small business marketing strategy, but it would be remiss not to mention it since Facebook’s membership is huge, with more than 400 million active users as of early 2010.
Adding an online presence to small business marketing efforts is a simple way to keep current and potential customers informed of new developments and capabilities.