According to a 2016 survey, about three-fourths of small businesses have used social media for marketing purposes or were planning to start doing so in the coming year.1
Established networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Yelp are already well known, although Facebook is the most widely used. However, newer platforms (such as Snapchat) pop up regularly and often attract users at a rapid pace.
Joining social media sites may be free, but buying ads can be costly. Moreover, managing one or more profiles may demand a significant amount of time and effort on the part of a business owner or an employee. During a typical week, 63% of business marketers devote six or more hours to social media activities, and 39% invest at least 11 hours.2
Even so, social media can be a convenient way to build relationships with your existing customers and widen your exposure in the marketplace. Here are a few tips for managing social media profiles effectively.
Focus on operations first. Make sure your business is running smoothly before you start spending time or money on social media pursuits. However, you may want to stake a claim to your business name on sites where you expect to have a presence in the near future.
Do your homework. Consider spending several weeks or months learning to use the technology and researching the marketing techniques of similar businesses, especially if you are not currently active on social media as a consumer. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a free social media marketing course for beginners in the Learning Center at sba.gov.
Start with one account. It’s possible that one social network is more popular than others with your target audience. It may take a while to create a manageable routine for updating posts and interacting with clients online.
Keep your profile professional. Try to provide helpful information that your customers are likely to find valuable. Avoid posting negative or controversial comments. To engage potential customers, offer freebies or other incentives. A contest that gives users a chance to win a prize, or a generous coupon, may be all you need to attract a following.
Include photos, infographics, and video. Sharing visual content has also become essential, largely because your followers are more likely to notice and respond to your posts and, best case, pass them along to their own social networks.
Don’t neglect your followers. You may need to respond to client requests, concerns, or complaints quickly. Otherwise, a single mistake could become a more serious reputation problem.