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12 Things Small Businesses Should Know About Social Media

John JantschJohn Jantsch

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You’ve heard of social media, right? I hope so. If not, where have you been? But having heard of social media and knowing how to use it correctly are two different things.

Small businesses have to get on board with social media if they want to keep up with their competitors. So what do you, the small business owner, need to know about this important topic?

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Here are 10 things all small businesses should know about social media.

  1. It’s important.

You probably already know this one, but it bears repeating. You cannot ignore social media and still expect to reach your target audience.

If you want to really get your name out there and attract as many people as you can, then you have to accept that social media is going to be a big part of how you do that.

  1. Facebook is king…

Social Media Examiner’s survey on the social media marketing industry reveals that Facebook is currently the biggest deal in small business social media strategies.

According to the survey, 93% of small business respondents use Facebook, whereas only 79% use Twitter. In the coming year, 62% plan on increasing their Facebook use.

  1. … But the other networks are growing

While Facebook is currently the king in social media marketing, recently networks like Twitter and Instagram have really caught steam. Twitter uses short updates, only 140 characters long, and updates rapidly, so it requires a different strategy than Facebook. To properly use Twitter, you’ll need to update frequently, often several times a day.

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform, but it is still far behind Facebook and Twitter in total audience. Post pictures on Instagram and share them across platforms to attract the largest audience.

  1. You have to know your audience.

Before you worry about creating a social media plan, you have to figure out who you are trying to reach. For many businesses, that is easy. Are you selling to businesses? Then businesses are your target.JF2

However, it is not always that easy. For example, if you have a product for teenage girls, do you aim towards the parents, the girls, both?

You need to figure this out because who you want to market to will play a big part in how you market to them.

  1. You’ve got to be consistent.

You need to know what your brand is and how it is defined. That message should be consistent across platforms.

When people hear your name or see your image, they should be able to recognize it from site to site.

  1. Yet you have to be inconsistent (kind of).

This is not the opposite of the last point. You need to keep your message consistent across brands. However, you have to match your tone and voice to the platform.

Certain platforms are less formal than others. You do not want to be too informal in the places you should be a little more formal and vice versa. Use the lingo of the tool or risk turning people off.

For instance, it is acceptable to use shorthand and “Text Lingo” on Twitter, to fit your message into 140 characters. This would not be acceptable on LinkedIn, a network that uses a more formal, professional tone and language.

  1. You can’t be afraid to curate.

There is a lot of information out there already. Take advantage of it. When done the right way, you can get a lot out of simply curating content.

Curating helps build you up as an authority. Make it easy for people to find the information they want by coming to you.

  1. You can’t be all promotional.

Social media is all about building engagement. You have to communicate with your audience and give them the things they want to hear.

If all you do is talk about yourself, people are going to stop listening to you talk. So focus more on posting non-promotional things that will get people interested in you, and then every once in a while, talk a little bit about yourself.

  1. You need a strategy.

Do not walk blindly through the social media maze. If you want to get the most out of it, come up with a strategy.

These are just a few of the things you have to consider.

  1. Also, you need to be flexible.

Even with a strategy, though, you have to be flexible. Social media changes all the time, and you have to be able to change with it.

  1. It is smart to plan ahead.

With a rock-steady strategy, you will be able to plan your social postings in advance. If you create a schedule and stick to it, then you are much more likely to post things that are actually worthwhile to your readers.

  1. You can have fun and be successful.

JF3The last point is the best one. Being successful at social media take a lot of work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Here is where you get to be creative and talk to other people. It is a great break from your busy day of running a business.

Social Media Helps 

Social media can be what takes you from no name to in the game. However, you have to use it right to get its benefits.

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and best selling author Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine. His blog was chosen as a Forbes favorite for marketing and small business and his podcast, a top ten marketing show on iTunes was called a “must listen” by Fast Company magazine.

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