10 Ways To Market Your Business Using Social Media
Social media is big. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and
others are changing the we we use the internet and interact with other
people in good ol' meatspace. That means it is changing the way business
works as well. So, if you're a business owner (or an aspiring one) you
can't ignore these trends. In fact, use them to your benefit. Here are
10 ways to get the word out using little to no dinero:
1. Search for Customers
You want customers? Go search them out. Using Twitter's Search
capabilities, you can search a vast amount of information to find out
who is tweeting for what you provide. At search.twitter.com you can type in
some keywords (along with some very useful parameters- if you wish) and
see real-time results. Or if you prefer, use a Twitter
Client to keep tabs on certain keywords for you automatically. When
you see a relevant tweet, you can respond within minutes and (possibly)
gain a new client. Google has even begun to include real-time social
updates in their search results.
Say you're an auto repair shop. Rather, let's say you run an
auto repair shop. Keeping tabs on a search such as "car broke down
near:YourZip within:50mi" would fetch any poor traveler who happens to
roadside tweet their mechanical mishap. I know it sounds far-fetched,
not. Or try something like "need auto body repair", "fix squealing
brakes", or "car won't start". Using search parameters like
"near:YourZip" and "within:##mi" will narrow the results to your
2. Monitor Your Brand
Now you know you can search for new customers. While you're at it, use
these same tools to keep tabs on your brand. Use the same powerful
search tools to see who is talking about you. What do people really
think about your service/product? What do they like about you? What do
they hate? Customer feedback is ultra important to growing your
business. Searching for what your customers are saying about you
provides unsolicited, real, transparent feedback which can help you
succeed. Which brings us to my next point.
3. Provide Customer Support
While monitoring your brand, you notice one tweet which is
not-so-positive in its tone. The client has had a bad experience with
your company and has proceeded to tell the twitter-verse how bad you
are. Good thing you're monitoring your brand! Think of the effect it
would have on the client herself (not to mention onlookers) if you
responded graciously and made good on the bad experience. Ka-pow! You've
just succeeded in turning bad press into good press!
Now, there are things which you may not be able to handle 'publicly'
for all to see. You certainly don't want this to backfire, making you
look like you not only screwed up the deal but you can't even make good
on your mistake. In some cases, it may be best to ask the person to
continue discussing with you via Direct Message, IM, email or phone.
4. Network with Colleagues
I have learned so much by following others in similar business. Who are
those in your industry whom you really admire? Do they have a Facebook
page? Twitter account? Podcast? Blog? Tap into their network to gain
wisdom from the best. You can then follow who they follow; learning more
and expanding your network in your area of expertise. This applies not
only to industry leaders. Who are your peers in your industry? These may
be valuable connections. People who are sharing the same struggles and
triumphs. Friending them can provide some great professional
relationships. Not to mention peers may actually friend you back.
5. Keep Tabs on Your Competition
Since we're so good at searching social networks now, we might as well
keep an eye out for out competitors. If you can find customers, and you
can find what they're saying about you, chances are your competition can
find the same thing. If they can't yet, now is your chance to take the
advantage! Also, this means you can keep tabs on them.
Select a few close competitors and search for mentions of their brand.
Listen to what their customers are saying about them. Can you offer
something they're not? What are their customers unsatisfied about? Can
you provide a better service? Listen to what your competitors say about
themselves. Are they expanding into a new area? Are they offering a
special deal this month?
Listening to a few of my respected competitors has helped me do
everything from determine what type of services to offer to adjusting
prices to finding new clients. I'm not saying sabotage their online
presence, just learn from it.
6. Create a Grass-Roots Movement
Recently I read an eBook about
"Creating Customer Evangelists". While it isn't specifically concerned
with using social media as a marketing tool, it transfers well. Since
most social media is, well, "social" (based on communal relationships),
it is a perfect place to create a grass-roots movement around your
business. I think the biggest take-away from Testify (the eBook) is that
satisfied customers make great natural evangelists for your business.
How do you do this? Offer special deals to your Facebook fans, or
special perks for those checked in at your establishment on Foursquare.
Ask for customer feedback and use it. Offer a discount for
referrals through your social network from your friends' networks. A
happy customer can't help but spread the word.
7. Professional Networks
Social networking isn't just about fun and 'friends'. Lest we forget
about the more 'professional' networks, sites like LinkedIn and Brazen
Careerist help professionals connect with other professionals within (or
across) your industry. Job searching in the Social Network age isn't
just blindly searching for and responding to the random Craigslist or
Monster ad (though I still do it!). Professional Networking sites allow
our natural networks of friends and coworkers to link us up with new
8. Traditional Ads
We all know about banner ads, Google AdWords, and all of that. I know
what you're thinking: it's not free, and it's not really 'social media.'
You're right. Most of the advice in this article costs you nothing.
Most traditional web advertisements aren't very social. However, I do
want to highlight what I believe is an exception. Namely, Facebook Ads.
Facebook and privacy have been together a source of contention as we
let more and more personal information out for others to see. This very
struggle is what makes Facebook Ads different. Because Facebook knows so
much about you- name, age, gender, location, occupation, friends,
interests, which pages you're a fan of, which games you play- it offers
advertisers unmatched granularity when it comes to demographic
For instance, if I'm starting a microbrewery in the midwest somewhere, I
can target who I want to see my ad down to some pretty specific
criteria. Using what Facebook knows about you, I can advertise only to
residents within a certain radius of my microbrewery who like beer, who
are (or aren't yet) fans of my shop, who are friends of current fans,
and (if I'm so inclined) are missional church planters. (sorry, maybe a
bit of an inside joke there...he he.)
To get that kind of specificity when targeting my ad assures I'm
reaching my intended audience. Which means I'm getting better quality
click-throughs, which I (Facebook knows) am willing to pay more for.
9. Local Social Media
Social Media is great for spreading your company's fame around the
globe quickly and cheaply. But along with its global significance, I
believe social media are causing a resurgence in our value of local
business. We want to know if there is someone who provides the good or
service we need...in our own community. Someone we can meet. Spending
our money where it supports our local economy. Reducing our
Google Places now offers
free local business listings on Google Maps. You can list your business
address, hours of operation, services, even offer coupons through Google
Places. When someone searches Google for something, your business might
just pop up in the results. Showing them that you are right there in
Other sites and mobile apps such as Foursquare and Brightkite allow
these connections to happen on a hyper-local basis. You can see how the
surge in the use of the mobile web and GPS has brought a whole new
dimension to social media. Is your business taking advantage of these
local opportunities. Just like the others, they're free and you can get
started by listing your company and paying attention to who is visiting
10. Make a Friend
Last but not least, remember that at the source of social media are
people. We need contact with real people! So while you're becoming a
social ninja remember to talk to people like they're people. There are
certainly times for mass emails and shameless self-promotion. But too
much of it will turn off your fans to your business. Let them know
you're a person from time to time. Rejoice with everyone in appreciation
of a beautiful sunny day. When a customer tweets about you negatively
or positively, respond to them and talk.
People want quality and value, but I believe they also want it from
someone (or a corporation) who is genuine. So don't forget that social
media is about people...and go make a friend.