For every small-business owner that hopes to set up a potent social media campaign, a fundamental grasp of social media and its relationship with business is needed.
While most people understand that a savvy social media plan can spur engagement, increase awareness and boost profits, figuring out where to start engaging with an audience of clients can be intimidating.
Here are a few tips to consider when starting up a social media channel:Money on the mind
One myth that seems widespread among entrepreneurs is that social media is a free marketing tool. This is not true.
Yes, Facebook and Twitter accounts are free to establish and operate, but it takes plenty of time and elbow grease to create a viable social media channel.
RG Logan, director of strategy at Carrot Creative, told Mashable that social media is becoming increasingly "pay-to-play." Logan said that any business that is serious about getting into the social media market should be ready to dish out a marketing budget distinctly for social media creation and brand-building.
"It's quite difficult to break through if you're not putting money behind your efforts," Logan said.
Facebook claimed that the average brand post is viewed by just 16 percent of its followers - the catch being that businesses that are paying to promote their posts generally see a substantial boost in views.
But Logan did offer that social media shouldn't be lost on those who can't afford a serious budget.
"The key should be quality over quantity. If you can't compete on a paid level, then you should focus on building the right audience on social - this means getting your most avid customers to become a part of your social media audience and providing value for them once they're there," he said. "If you take care of that core and show them that you care, they'll reciprocate by singing your praises to their own networks, thus increasing the opportunity to build your audience more organically."
One method that people are using to publicize their businesses is adding social media widgets to the company's website. A small-business owner should also add Facebook URLs or Twitter handles on business cards and email signatures. Another way to promote is by posting flyers that send people to a company's social media pages.Pick your poison
Small-business owners should recognize that a presence on every media platform is not necessarily beneficial. Figuring out the right platforms for a particular business can cause business to boom and cut down on wasted time spent with the wrong channels.
For example, a clothing designer or restaurant might have more luck with an Instagram account, thus allowing them to showcase their work through images. An accountants office might not have as much success using Instagram or Pinterest because existing and potential clients might not find that sort of work as visually pleasing.
Social Media Examiner urges business owners to examine the type of content that is popular among their competitors, while Doug Quint, owner of Big Gay Ice Cream, told Mashable that small-business owners should take ingredients from other pages they like and use them in their own social media channel.
"I think the best advice for businesses that are trying to take things online and create a presence is first to watch - instead of jumping in - and look at pages that you like and make active observations about what's going on," Quint said. "Secondly, if you're not comfortable on one of these streams, don't sign up. I didn't go on Foursquare for three years because I couldn't make sense of it for me and how I wanted it to come across. So don't go places where you're not comfortable."
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