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Start-Ups

Social Media for Small Business, Part 1: Why You Need to Jump on the Social Media Bandwagon

By Garrett Spence   |    May 13, 2014   |    1:40 PM

Social media isn’t dead, and small businesses still need it
More than 60% of businesses say that they
haven’t seen a return on investment for their social media efforts, but there’s a reason for that: social media is all about patience. You can’t just set up an account and watch the sales roll in, because social media success for small businesses is far more nuanced than that.

So how does a small business owner win on social media? It’s not as complicated as it sounds.

What can social media do for my small business?
Social media is all about making connections with your customers. Now more than ever, customers want to do business with companies that feel human. They love personality, especially the growing Millennial demographic.

Social media is the most effective way to give your company a voice and a personality, and customers are increasingly turning to social media when they want to praise or slam a company. A company that responds to this positive and negative feedback can earn a spot in the customer’s heart (and wallet.) And the best part? It can eventually tap into the rest of that customer’s social network, hopefully gaining more devotees in the process.

Social media is not a place to generate leads, at least not in the beginning. Building a relationship based on trust and loyalty takes time, and that’s what the social media game is all about. In the end, the time spent is typically worth it.

I don’t want to mess this up... what are some common mistakes small businesses make with social media?
Many businesses try to dive into social media by creating accounts on every platform that’s available. Let’s clear something up right now: there’s no golden rule that says a business has to be active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, YouTube, and that new social media platform that will inevitably be created next month.

There’s only one real caveat to this: you should have a Facebook page, sinc e71% of all adults are on Facebook.

Trying to excel on every social media platform is the quickest way to screw up your social media marketing
Take a moment to think about your target audience. Who is your perfect customer, what are their demographics? This is the most straightforward way to determine your social media plan.

In September 2013, Pew released a comprehensive study detailing who uses what social media networks.

Do you want to reach men? You can find them on LinkedIn (24%) and Twitter (17%.) For women, find them on Pinterest (33%) and Instagram (20%.)

Targeting 50-64 year olds? The social media platform they’re primarily hanging out at is LinkedIn (24%.)

Give Pew’s report a read, and try to figure out where your customers are spending their time online. It’s better to ignore the platforms that your customers aren’t using, because then you can be a social media rock star on the sites that matter.

If you aren’t sure how to get started on social media, stay tuned. In Part 2 of our Social Media for Small Businesses series, you’ll get the lowdown on how to get started, and don’t worry- it’s not tricky.