Small and local business owners are typically amongst the first group of people to ignore social media. As a marketing platform, small businesses tend to adjust their marketing budgets to make room for local advertisements, maintaining a website, and ensuring that all local listing are completed accurately. Unfortunately, this tunnel-vision negates any marketing plan, as local businesses need social media to round out their lead generation efforts.
Decision makers of small businesses are quick to judge social media’s value. Metrics aside (which certainly highlight the necessity of social presence), business owners need to take a step back and realize some of the key factors regarding the connection between their target market and social media.
Using social platforms to speak to your customers, whom you know better than anyone, is invaluable to local businesses today. You know your audience, you know what they like, and you know what moves them to make a purchase. These factors are priceless in terms of social media’s potential to reach your target on a different level than typical tools such as a well-functioning website or a pretty advertisement in a local newspaper.
As an online community begins to develop via social platforms, local business owners are quick to realize the correlation between social involvement and sales. From contests to discounts to integrating offline and online campaigns to unmatched customer service potential, the benefits of a strong social media presence are vast. Start with Facebook, and then move to Twitter and Google+. Finally, make sure that LinkedIn and Pinterest are given some attention as well.
Use the following social media tools to take your marketing to the next level in 2013:
- Hootsuite: manage Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn all on one platform. Connect to Tumblr, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Instagram with ease. Hootsuite is today’s best platform for social media coordination, organization, and a unified voice.
- Monitter: wondering what your clients and competitors are saying about you and your products/services? Wonder no more with the use of Monitter. Local businesses are able to type search terms into the program and any mention of these terms will be captured and displayed. Any mentions, specified phrases, or specified words are recorded, which has proven to help target prospective clients, unhappy customers, and competitor’s customers that you may be able to steal.
- MailChimp: taking advantage of current customers is essential for small business today. Creating a web-based mailing system to target these people and keep them coming back is imperative. In addition, MailChimp monitors everything. Know who opened your e-blast, what they clicked, and even integrate with existing tools, applications, and content management systems.
- Google Apps for Domains: small businesses are often limited in their budgets, especially in the beginning. Using Google Apps for Domains, local businesses are able to quickly and simply create custom email addresses with their company’s URL. With the ability to integrate with Google Calendar, this tool will help you and your employees to get started in their marketing efforts with ease.
The above tools loosely fit into the “social media” category. However, when used in conjunction, it is clear that Hootsuite, Monitter, MailChimp, and Google Apps for Domains will set any local and small business up for a bright marketing future in 2013.