How Social Media can Boost your Small Business

Social media can be a truly effective tool to encourage more sales for many new and existing small businesses. In a study conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK, it was found that close to 80% of consumers will be happy to return for repeat orders based on the brand’s positive social media presence.

Are you being seen on social media at all?

Customers expect to find a business or brand on social media sites, so if there is a lack of presence, or you have a particularly poor one, your business is certainly going to miss out on a lot of potential sales.

If you own a small business, or you are a sole trader, you need to focus on your target market. You do this by going where your customers are hanging out on social media platforms, and speaking directly to them. You have to understand your customers – you need to know everything about them, where they live, their preferred lifestyles, their interests and hobbies. Knowing what sort of person makes up your average customer will help you understand which social networks they are most likely to use.

Understanding your customer profile, and knowing where they will be hanging out will help you develop an effective social media strategy to capture your target audience. Once you know how to engage with your audience, then you need to work out how you are going to use all this positive activity.

Translating your activity into sales

Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve with your social media activity. Do you want to sell tickets to a special event? Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? Do you want to capture email addresses for your newsletter? Are you selling a product or service on your website that can be purchased cheaper through social media via a code or voucher?

Notice how I asked what you wanted to do with your activity? Before you can do anything with the buzz you are creating on social media, you first need to create buzz and engage your customers before you try to sell them anything. Never try to jump the gun on this one. You have to build up trust in your social media followers and earn their loyalty before selling to them. To start the hard-sell from day one will come across as quite distasteful, and can switch off your potential customers interest in your business with a single post.

Handle your social following carefully

Knowing what to do with social media to make it successful is the key to making it work for your business. It takes time to build social relationships, so the last thing you want to do is blow it by openly selling your product or service too soon.

Try to ask your followers questions to engage them in two-way conversation with you. Having their opinions heard and appreciated will make them feel valued, and they will love you for that. The questions you ask them can be business related or general – even discussing the breaking headline news of the day can lead to engaging conversations and and a good foundation of trust between you and your followers.

Solve a problem that customer has, and they will love you for life! Sharing common quandaries with others in your network, asking for opinions, personal experiences, recommendation and sharing advice will all lead to loyalty and returning custom.

Understand the difference

Unfortunately, there are still new business owners who are coming into the world of social media for the first time with the belief that it should be treated in the same way as traditional advertising. Putting an obvious advert into a newspaper or magazine is a very different thing to having a social media profile.

When you buy advertising space in a magazine for example, you will only be concerned with creating your advert to get the right message across to sell your product or service. The rest of the magazine is not your concern, and you don’t get involved in the production.

A magazine reader will buy the magazine because of the information that it contains, and will never buy a copy simply because it carries one of your adverts. You place your advert within that magazine because the reader will be the sort of person that may like what you have to offer.

You have to think of your social media profile as the ‘whole magazine’ and not just the single advert you place in it. Your followers will come to your page or profile for the same reason they will pick up a magazine to read. They will come for the information, the answers to their questions, the social engagement, and the latest news. If you can provide them with this, then they will be more willing to accept the occasional sales-specific post, especially if it offers some value to them.