Getting the Most Out of “Free” Social Media Marketing for Your Business

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Getting the Most Out of “Free” Social Media Marketing for Your Business

The Internet has revolutionized business advertising. Rather than simply making educated assumptions about who will respond to your marketing efforts, social media can reach a wider audience, while providing intel to help you advertise more effectively. Using social media as an advertising tool for your business is easy, accessible and free - but some basic information and sound practices can help you get the most out of it.

Social media for marketing

Social media marketing is promoting your business on an online social platform, like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. These are online destinations where people consume and share content about things that matter to them. They check in to see what their friends, family, acquaintances and like-minded people are talking about, be it current events, topics of interest, news or simply to share information and photos. People on social media really like to see content in their news feed that’s interesting and relevant to them. So you basically have an invitation to the party. You just need to show up.

Why social media marketing?

Marketing on social media is really as simple as talking about your business. What do you sell? What makes your offering special? Are you having an event or sale? What happened yesterday that made you proud of your employees? Post about it! Social media provides the ability to have a contextual conversation with customers and potential customers in real time; to make a favorable impression and share your knowledge.

Getting set up in social media

Choose your platform(s). I recommend going with the popular sites for maximum exposure. As mentioned earlier, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the big three right now. Here’s just the basics of each:

Facebook Pages allow you to establish a fleshed-out online social identity for your business. Facebook guides you through the page-building steps, helping you utilize all the features they offer. Note that a Facebook Page for Business is different than a Personal Profile. You want a Page for your business, as it is geared for marketing. Facebook offers a robust array of tools that make creating and promoting content easy.

Likewise, Twitter is a place to establish your business’ online identity - just in short snippets. At a limit of 280 characters per post, or “Tweet,” Twitter is a platform for succinct bits of information. It offers the opportunity to create a profile for your business but like the format itself, it is abbreviated. Twitter is a fast-moving news stream, more like a ticker tape than Facebook’s limit-less posts. It’s a great means to engage frequently with your audience and with more targeted - or diverse - content.

In a world of endless photos, Instagram is the place to see and share them. If your business produces something that people will want to view, Instagram is a place you’ll want to have a presence. It makes sense to put photos on a photo sharing site, where people are hungry to see the house you just rehabbed, updo you just did or bracelet you just created. Not that you can’t share photos on Facebook or Twitter, but on Instagram, photos speak louder than words.

It’s best to start with one (or maybe two) social media platforms to begin with. Gain some mastery with those before venturing on to more.

Growing a following

Since we’re talking social media, you’ll have to follow some people. Who? Start with those you know. Friends, family, local businesses, your local government, those in comparable businesses, suppliers, industry experts...they all have social media profiles. Once you follow them, you’ll see what they’re posting. Step in and comment, share your thoughts, make yourself known to them! Chances are, they’ll follow back. Then, they’ll see what you post in their news feed or timeline. It’s critical that you interact with those you follow in order to get their attention so that, eventually, they’ll share your content with their followers. That’s how audiences grow.

Best practices for social media marketing

Following some general guidelines will help you make the most of your social media marketing efforts:

  1. Be interesting - Avoid only posting text-based content. Add a photo, meme, video. Mix it up to add interest.
  2. Cultivate a unique voice - You want to stand out from the crowd so find a way to communicate that is uniquely your own.
  3. Engage with your audience - Thank people for their comments, “like” their replies, answer their questions, respond to their feedback - good and bad.
  4. Fine-tune your brand - People will be more likely to follow if they can anticipate/expect what kinds of topics you post about.
  5. Stay positive - Even when people post derogatory comments, stay above the fray and remain civil. And definitely don’t be the one posting anything with a negative connotation.
  6. Use good grammar and punctuation - You can be casual but don’t get sloppy - it makes you look unprofessional.
  7. Reciprocate - You’ll find new people to follow by checking out people who follow you - and those who they follow/follow them.
  8. Create a social media calendar - Make a list of topics/content you’d like to address on social media to ensure you’ll never be at a loss for a post when you need one.
  9. Post frequently, but not TOO frequently - This varies for every business. Try a schedule you’re comfortable with, say, once a day to start. If it seems your audience is wanting to hear from you more often, up your frequency; just don’t become an annoyance by posting too frequently, lest your audience tune you out.
  10. Pay attention to analytics - You’ll be able to tell by the number of replies and comments which posts are more popular than others. Needless to say, strive to post more of that kind of content.

It’s really quite exciting to have this boon to business advertising right at our fingertips and for only the cost of the time it takes to administer it. Using smart techniques will help you grow an engaged audience. Remaining engaged and active on social media ensures your recognizability among customers and potential customers.

Are you getting the most out of social media marketing for your business?

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