MARKETING & ADVERTISING • January 2, 2015
3 minutes Read
By now, most small business owners are aware that social media tools have the potential to attract new customers. The key to putting these tools to work for your business is to map the available tools to your needs and goals.
The universe of social media tools and the functions they offer is continually evolving. Use the following list of popular social media tools, and examples of how they can be used to find customers, to choose a tool you can put to work for your business.
Location-based service providers such as Yelp, Foursquare, Citysearch, TripAdvisor and a large universe of other services ensure that prospects can easily find businesses using smartphones. If a prospect searches for a category of business—barbers, lawn care or restaurant, for example—the service provides a list of nearby businesses that fit the description.
To bring new customers in the door using location-based services, focus your efforts and take steps to entice prospects to visit you. Ask your current customers which services they use to find businesses like yours and concentrate on those services first. Make sure your listing is accurate and that your address and description appear front and center. Your description should communicate your unique value so that you will stand out from other listings. To further entice prospects, consider paying to post an offer, such as a two-for-one offer or a coupon that rewards people who come in within a certain time frame.
You can use Twitter to attract customers by promoting items to your followers and/or encouraging people to retweet what you have posted to their followers.
Many people follow small businesses on Twitter to get product updates, so these promotions represent a good opportunity for using Twitter to find new customers. Let’s say that you choose to tweet about a new product and include a link to your website. You might attract customers to your store or to your site to make a purchase. Or, people may retweet and, depending on who these people are and how many people follow them, dramatically expand the size of the group viewing your promotion.
You can add photos to your tweet to showcase an item or promote an in-store event as well. Another means of gaining new customers is to use your tweets to establish yourself or your small business as an authority. People like to buy from experts, so tweeting about your industry or trends in your sector can lay the groundwork for future sales.
Facebook works well for business owners to connect with potential customers and showcase expertise and products. Part of the power of Facebook is its huge reach and the ease of sharing. Your company’s Facebook page is a prime spot for posting photos of products and sharing information that demonstrates that you are a go-to resource in your area of business.
To bring new buyers to your company via Facebook, you can promote the arrival of new merchandise or post specials that incent purchases. Some businesses offer “Facebook only” coupons or offers that encourage people to be loyal visitors to their page. Contests posted and run through your Facebook page can encourage people to get involved and compete for votes from other Facebook visitors. Facebook also lets you use paid services so that what you post can reach a larger audience via ads targeted by age, income and interests.
YouTube has become an important resource for people and businesses when they are researching a purchase. It is a frontline source of information about what to buy and who to buy from.
With that in mind, it can pay for your small company to invest time and resources in creating short videos for YouTube. The opportunities for finding new customers through YouTube include creating videos that directly promote what you have to offer as well as videos that provide other information about your company or the products and services you sell. The videos you make for YouTube can be short—1 to 2 minutes is fine.
Get an idea of what is expected on YouTube by watching competitors’ videos. A video that shows your product or service “in play”—i.e., being used or worn—can help to turn a prospect into a customer. Background videos about the process of making your products or describing a trend in your industry will establish your expertise and help with sales, too.
The potential uses for social media tools are evolving as technologies change and new tools develop. Continue to try new tools and revise your approach based on what you learn. This continual effort will likely pay off in higher visibility and new customers.