The 5 ways social media affects your business

There are over 15 million businesses on Facebook. Twitter has over 200 million active users, and many of those users are Tweeting on behalf of a business. Instagram has 150 million users, and, increasingly, those users are companies looking for new ways to promote themselves. But skeptical small business owners might wonder whether all of this social media stuff really matters for their bottom line. Are these millions of users just wasting time online and procrastinating when there are more important things that could be done? What is the return on investment? Do all of those status updates, 140 character messages, and interesting pictures really bring in more customers? The answer is yes. We’ve got five good reasons why social media matters for your small business.

1.) Social Media Provides an Insider’s View to your Business

Spend some time on Instagram and you’ll feel like you’re getting personal photographic glimpses into people’s lives. It’s like paging through a friend’s photo album, except that you might not know that friend offline. Celebrities have taken to Instagram to get closer to their fans–singer Beyonce uses the social media outlet to post pictures of herself backstage and with friends. These peeks into Beyonce’s personal life are seen by 6.5 million followers. Instagram has, then, helped her boost her fan base. Businesses can do the same with Instagram. Think of your fan base as current and potential customers. You can use Instagram to show the behind-the-scenes elements of your company. Have a quirky Friday tradition in your office? Snap a picture of it for Instagram. Are you a restaurant owner? Post pictures of your food on Instagram to advertise new dishes. Are you a clothing designer? Use Instagram to show yourself in the creative process. No matter what kind of business you own, social media is a great tool to provide more transparency–and more trust–in your company.

2.) Social Media Helps you to Connect with Customers

There are over a billion people on Facebook, so if your business does not have a Facebook page, then you are, quite simply, missing out on connecting with a lot of people. Why is it important to post frequently to the social media giant? Because it is a perfect way to connect directly with your customers. Once people “like” your page, then they will see everything that you post and then they can interact with you online. Be sure to post every day to keep the name of your business on the minds of these page-viewers and also to develop relationships. Potential and current customers will use your page to ask you questions, to offer comments, and, yes, sometimes issue complaints. But if you respond to these customer posts in a timely and professional way, then you show that you’re a conscientious business owner who cares about your customers, whether they are happy or not. Facebook is also a fun way to connect with people–implement a weekly trivia contest, take pictures of your patrons and post them, ask your clientele to take pictures of themselves with your product and then post them to your page.

3.) Social Media Helps You Tap Into Industry Trends And Connect With Other Businesses

Platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can help your small business tap into larger industry trends and join industry conversations. With Twitter you’ll want to follow lots of local people in order to build your customer base, but you’ll also want to follow other businesses that are similar to yours. By doing this you can see what social media methods have been successful for others and which methods have not worked. Twitte and LinkedIn also allow you to communicate directly with other businesses, industry publications, and social media gurus. By following the right people, you’ll have plenty of insightful industry-specific reading material at your fingertips. It’s like attending an industry conference every day without the hassle of traveling and spending excess money.

4.) Social Media Is The Best Kind Of Word-Of-Mouth Advertising

People are already talking about your business on social media–even if you’re not out there. But if you are present in the social media world, and you’re using the platforms correctly, then you’ll tap into the the best kind of advertising–viral, word-of-mouth marketing. This doesn’t mean that you need to use every single Facebook post to sell something, for instance. Personal, fun, and interesting posts are the ones that people share. And you want people to share your posts because then the name of your brand is not only seen by that one person who shared your post, but also by that Facebook users hundreds of friends.

5.) Social Media Allows You To Have Real Time Moments With Customers

Social media gives your business the chance to have “real time” moments with people online.  Let’s say that someone has a question about one of your company’s services. Instead of getting on the phone, they send you a tweet. If you respond quickly, then you have provided a direct, real time response to an issue that may have taken a lot longer to resolve if the customer had to place a call, perhaps be put on hold, and maybe even talk to several people before receiving the right answer. And by reacting quickly to tweets like this, you show the entire twitterverse that your company is on top of customer service.

Or maybe you see that someone has posted a picture of your product on Instagram. Simply by “liking” the post and posting a short comment you are showing that your business is run by actual people who care about connecting with customers. And, like on Twitter, that Instagram users followers will see this, too.

The 5 reasons your company should be blogging

Blogs are everywhere and lots of people are reading them. How many people, you ask? Currently, Word Press (one of the most popular web-hosting vehicles due to its user-friendly blogging platform) has over 70 million sites around the world. (And that number rises daily.) Those Word Press sites are viewed by over 370 million people each month. But, you might say, how do I know that blogging isn’t just another internet fad with a short lifespan? Because people will always seek information and now we do so online, often in the form of blogs. In terms of Word Press, for instance, over 100,000 blogs are created every single day.

People are heading to blogs daily, using them to gain knowledge, to see something visually interesting, to connect with others, and to publish articles that can be shared widely. So, quite simply, if you’re a small business and you’re not blogging, then you are missing out on myriad connections with current and potential customers. We’ve got five basic reasons why your business needs to be blogging.

1.) Write Your Own Story

Positive or negative, the social media sphere is buzzing daily with reviews and commentary on businesses. Your customers are already talking about you on Facebook, Twitter, etc… No, you can’t control what customers will post about you online, but you can write your own story with a blog. Blogging provides your business with a platform to get more personal with your customers, allowing them to see you, the owner, as a real person and your business as a labor of love into which you’ve invested yourself fully. Write a blog post about your business’s origin story. Write a post that takes readers on a day-in-the-life journey. Write about why you love what you do. By telling your business’s story through blogging you have the chance to create deeper bonds with your customers.

2.) Be A Teacher

Advertisements are everywhere, permeating our lives throughout each day. Because of this, you don’t want your blog to be just another endless sales pitch. People can spot an advertisement-disguised-as-a-blog-post from a mile away and, when they’ve sniffed out the commercial element, they typically click away. The best way to sell your business to customers via blogging is to be a teacher–an expert–in your industry. Do you own a car wash? Blog about the difference between car waxes, for instance. Own an apartment complex? You could blog about various ways to decorate a living room. As a small business owner, you are an expert in the industry in which your company resides. Why not share that expertise with the blogosphere and gain some some new fans in the process?

3.) Go Viral

If you use your blog as a teaching mechanism, then you have the chance to go viral. Why? Because when you are sharing valuable information–not just company-specific advertisements that are tied to your local area–people will post your blog on Facebook and Twitter to spread good ideas around. Your company’s name then has the chance to be seen far-and-wide and your brand becomes synonymous with your industry. This is the best kind of word-of-mouth advertising since you’re not being pushy with overt advertising and you’re engendering trust in possible customers. And when a blog goes viral it can do so forever, landing on websites around the world and social media networks of all kinds.

4.) Communicate With Your Customers

A company blog can be a great place to crowd-source your current and prospective customers. Get a conversation going with people. Are you considering offering a new product at your business? Ask your customers first with your blog. Readers can chime in with their thoughts in the blog’s comments section. And conversation starters get people talking on your blog’s own page as well as in the social networking community; your readers will be more likely to share your blog post on Facebook if you’re asking for input. People love to see their ideas online–Facebook is filled with users sharing their opinions ad infinitum–so a crowd-source focused blog post can solicit lots of helpful feedback and more exposure.

5.) Share What’s New

Use a blog post to share what’s new with your business. Make it a less aggressive way to advertise new products and services. Tell a story about why you’re bringing in these new elements. You don’t want every post to be a sales pitch, but it’s OK to sprinkle in an article about new offerings and sales every now and then. When you strike a balance with a variety of types of posts, then your customers won’t feel bombarded or annoyed with a sales-y post once in a while.