If you’re like a typical “small business”, you’re looking for new ways to bring in customers. My advice = Use Social Media. Most “small business” have little or no resources to hire a full time Social Media manager. If this is the case, then my recommendation would be to concentrate only on these 3 Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp). Take an hour a day (or night) and network/add content to these Social Media sites.
This is a great site and becoming a force in small business marketing. Yelp is your chance to give customers the scoop, right on your Yelp business page. Once logged into biz.yelp.com, build out a rich profile under the “Business Information” tab. You can share the history behind your business and what you do best. Also, add a little something about yourself and your employees so that Yelp users can get to know you. Let people know your business is on Yelp. Add a button (Yelp link) to your email signature file, website, and all marketing collateral
Get photos of your business up on Yelp, ASAP. If your business is a restaurant, add a picture of your menu. Own a boutique? Add a shot of your great new merchandise. It’s a simple, fun and effective way to illustrate your story. Finally, ensure a photo of your storefront is included so people know what to look for when they decide to visit you offline and in person.
Twitter is also for small business owners looking to build new local customers. To sign up for a twitter account, go here www.twitter.com. The first thing to do is set up a proper “Profile”. Make sure you fill out your twitter profile to include your website URL, business phone #, and specific keywords related to your business or service that will help potential people to follow you. Follow people in your field of business such as peers, customers, and competitors. Follow your competitors followers as well. Run twitter contests, give away special online twitter discounts or offers. Always include “Add Follow Me on Twitter” in email signature file, website, and your other social media accounts.
Make sure you don’t mix your twitter business account with a personal account, keep them separate as well as the messages. Engage in related business conversations. Look up conversations that will help drive customers to your twitter account using keywords in twitter search. DO NOT go overboard and follow too many people that follow you or you will risk looking like a spammer. If you have a blog on your small business website, always reference a new blog post on your twitter account. Stay with it everday and be patient, the ROI will pay off in due time. Retweet others relevant to your field or business. This helps establish credability and you will pick up more followers.
Get on Facebook now! Facebook pages tend to work better for businesses while Facebook “groups” do well for non-profits, interests and causes. If you’re a one-person business, rather than creating Facebook pages for your name, consider setting up a Facebook page for the company, product or service name and add keywords to it. People may be more likely to subscrbe to your Page (become a “fan”) when they see the topic that follows the company name.
Content is king for a Facebook business page. Facebook is a great place to share tips on how to do things faster or more effectively with your product or service. Post “how-to” videos or screencasts. Announce free upcoming events or webinars. Mention if you or someone from your business will be attending an event for a potential meet up. Its always a good idea (content-wise) to import your twitter feed and business blog posts.
Make sure you use Facebook to connect with your existing customers AFTER they’ve already bought from you – rather than trying to use Facebook to mine for leads. This is the path of least resistance. Since they already know you, they are more likely to interact with your page – crucial for organic growth on Facebook.