‘Social Media’ has been the hot buzz-word of the past couple of years, and it shows no sign of slowing down. The truth of the matter is, in a fast-paced world full of electronic communication, a blog or Facebook page is the new second storefront. You have to make yourself known, draw customers in, and create relationships all in a virtual world. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the old adage of ‘Location, location, location!’ Being in the right place in the right way is essential to attracting customers and growing your business.
Below we’ve listed some resources you should be sure to take advantage of – including some you’ve likely never heard of. There are ways to connect with customers, but also ways to network and connect with other business owners so you can network, ask questions, and get engagement.
To connect with customers:
1. Facebook This is the mega-mall of the internet. Almost everyone is here; customers and businesses alike, and you can easily put up a brand page for free and begin communicating with potential customers. The key to leveraging Facebook properly is communication. This isn’t a TV advertisement; it’s a virtual relationship and that makes a big difference in your strategy. If done correctly, you can build a huge and loyal following here.
2. Google+ The newborn competitor to Facebook, Google+ is growing rapidly and now allows brand pages. To make a splash here, get in early and set up an authentic, clearly branded page that allows Google+ users to see who you are and what your product is. The advantage is that Google+ isn’t yet as saturated as Facebook, so it’s much easier to get noticed.
3. HootSuite You may not have heard of this one, but it’s a gem of a resource. As you manage your social media presence, it’s important to know what’s happening across multiple platforms. HootSuite allows you manage your profiles, schedule tweets and messages, analyze your traffic, and track mentions of your brand. An all-in-one dashboard, it will make managing social media much less hectic.
To connect with fellow entrepreneurs:
1. Dreamstake A networking site with over 4,000 members, Dreamstake describes itself as “a business accelerator” and helps small business owners build strategy, business plans, and find funding. There are many groups, forums, and events that you can participate in to connect, learn, and grow your business.
2. LinkedIn A well-known professional networking site, LinkedIn has an extensive profile page and is a great resource for connecting with others in your industry or area of interest. You can join groups that fit your business or needs, which will allow you to get to know others, provide suggestions, and work out resources or referrals.
3. Twitter No list is complete without mentioning Twitter. Although the message length is small, this actually benefits you because you have to get down to the basics of your message. You can track your industry, find out what others are doing, find potential clients, and even follow your competition! This one is often a cross breed of building relationships with fellow entrepreneurs and customers. Depending on your industry, your customers could be spending time on this social network as well.
The social media world can be very overwhelming. The key is to focus on just a few platforms to start with, and then build and branch out from there. No business starts by opening 100 stores, so don’t feel like you need to be on every platform right away. Like all good businesses, you will grow and gain followers over time. Just relax and have fun with it!