By now, any small-business owners who have touched a keyboard or tuned into a newscast realize that they should be marketing their products and services through social media. To most, this advice means they should establish a company page on Facebook, open a Twitter account and start attracting friends and followers. It sounds like a chore, and it seems challenging to make a 140-character post engaging enough for a company’s limited corps of online devotees to spread it to their own contacts.
While using Twitter or Facebook to monitor potential customer complaints and to engage in conversation directly with customers is certainly beneficial, social media offer many more opportunities, beyond tweets and “likes,” to bring your offerings directly to consumers. When contemplating ways to use social media for marketing, consider adding these five activities to your online marketing plan:
- Write a blog. Blogs provide the chance to express your point of view on a trend, describe the benefits of your product or service, and invite comments from customers and peers. Blog posts are great ways to begin customer conversations, not only between you and a consumer but consumer to consumer, as well, with conversations focused on the topic or offering that you have chosen.<p>
- Comment on other blogs. Find the blogs of influential consumers, opinion leaders and groups who discuss topics related to your business and your offerings. Then provide your own comments to their posts, regularly contributing to the conversation. On your own blog, link to their blogs; and they may return the favor. You may become a thought leader simply by associating with other such leaders and expressing your opinions.<p>
- Post a video. With Flip video and other inexpensive and easy-to-use cameras, it’s a simple matter to record a demonstration of your product or testimonials from satisfied customer and post them on YouTube or other video sites. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a full-motion demo is worth thousands more, and the written comments that can be posted online next to your video may add even more value.<p>
- Post images. Especially if you produce a product, register on a photo-sharing site, such as Flickr, and create an album of images that highlight the features, design, use or setting of your products and create links to the album from your own website and your blog.<p>
- Make your website interactive. You may already have a website, but it should do more than provide information about your company and your products or services. It should be a vehicle for customers to engage with the business, allowing them to rate and review products, post comments about your customer service, receive answers to questions and even post their own images showing how they have used your product.
Tweet all you like, but remember to branch out to encourage customers to flock to your offerings.