We asked eight small business pros for their hottest social media tips.
Here's their advice for you to take your business to the next level.
#1: Show Them the “Real You”
Use Facebook to show prospects, clients and customers the “real you.” Sure, provide the occasional business tip. Or link to your new blog post. But that's what everyone else is doing. So why not show them you're a real person by posting updates about things you're passionate about?
I love to cook, so I've been known to post pictures of my grilled masterpieces. Or I'll quote something one of my silly kids just said. Or I'll pose a question, such as “How can we encourage more young entrepreneurs?” Either way, I try to keep it interesting, humorous and different. And always authentic.
Oh, and I know I'm going to ruffle a lot of feathers by saying this, but I really do believe that less is more. I get more engagement by updating five times per week than five times per day. Plus it fits my personality. Because offline, I would never call attention to myself that frequently. 😉
Ed Gandia, founding partner, International Freelancers Academy.
#2: Pick One Thing and Do It Really Well
Small businesses are faced with having to prioritize their resources toward the activities that deliver the most impact. With social media, it's easy to feel like you need to have a presence on every social media channel. It's also easy to get lost in managing too many networks.
Being on 5 social networks and giving all of them half-effort will not generate results. Therefore, I recommend that small businesses first find which network has the highest concentration of their audience using tools like Follower Wonk, Facebook's free advertising platform and LinkedIn's search features.
Once you've found which social media network actually has a concentration of your target audience, develop a strategy to engage them. Rather than spreading your energy across multiple channels, put 100% of your “social focus” on the best channel for your audience and do it exceptionally well. If you're successful, you'll have a much easier time justifying the additional investment to replicate your success on another social media network.
Nichole Kelly, founder of Full Frontal ROI.
#3: Turn Your Facebook Page Into a Lead-Generating Machine
One necessary component of a thriving business is a strong list of qualified leads. Collecting names and emails is essential to any small business because you can communicate with your ideal audience on a regular basis. Some business experts say that without a list, you don't really have a business!
There are many ways to grow your list and one of the smartest marketing moves is to create an opt-in strategy on your Facebook page. To keep it simple, use iFrames to create a custom welcome tab. On this tab you can create a 2-step process called a “reveal tab.”
Step #1: Include a call to action to encourage non-fans to click Like and become a fan.
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Step #2: Once you get the Like, offer a valuable giveaway in exchange for name and email.
With this model, you are increasing your fan base and growing your lead list at the same time. It's a double whammy for your business.
Amy Porterfield, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies.
#4: Invest in a Great Twitter Design
If your business or brand is geared toward a particular niche market, make sure that you go all out when designing your Twitter profile. For an example, see @HungerGamesPod. Make sure that it shows how serious you are about your niche and that by looking at your profile, people will see valuable content that they could get if they were following you on Twitter.
Next, go find other Twitter IDs that market to your exact niche market. For my Hunger Games brand, I did this with @TheHungerGames, which has over 76,000 followers. These 76,000 people are obviously interested in The Hunger Games niche and therefore might find my podcast on the subject interesting and want to follow.
Go through and follow that account's followers. Most will get an email notification from Twitter, because they never turned off email notifications, telling them that you just followed them. Many will click through to your Twitter profile, check it out and if they're interested, they'll follow you back.
This is how I added over 4,000 followers to my Hunger Games Twitter account in less than a month.
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#5: Bring Your Company Onto Video
Without question, the hottest and most effective use of social media today is VIDEO. With all the recent changes in how Google and other search engines index web pages, adding short videos is the #1 way to get into the top of search results.
Creating a custom channel on YouTube is very easy. Creating a series of short instructional videos around your product or service and using testimonials from happy clients/customers are great ways to add credibility to your company and dramatically increase the chances of a viewer going to your website.
Use humor and graphics to get your key messages across. Remember, shorter is better—no more than 3 minutes.
Michael Crosson, founder of the second-largest LinkedIn group, “the Social Media Marketing Group,” with over 230,000 members.
#6: Learn How to Master Video Marketing
My hottest tip for small businesses to take their business to the next level is to learn how video content—when tagged, titled and published correctly—can increase your exposure in search results.
Video thumbnails in search results attract the eye more than text and can get your content seen over traditional text delivery. Plus, video can really highlight your company's personality!
Gregory Ng, an advertising executive by day and the host of a popular webshow by night.
#7: Monitor Your Clients and Prospects
Create alerts for all of your important clients, add their blogs to your RSS reader, create a Twitter List and add it to a tool like TweetDeck. Explore whether your CRM tool allows you to add the social connections for your clients (BatchBook, Highrise or ACT!all have this function and the Rapporative plugin for Gmail can do this as well).
Monitor what your clients and prospects are doing and saying in social networks to anticipate and serve their needs and build relationships much faster. Next you can do the same with key journalists and strategic partners.
This step alone will make your social media efforts pay off immediately.
John Jantsch, a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
#8: Give Away the Secret Sauce
In other words, start developing content about those industry secrets or how-to tips that no other competitor of yours would dare touch. This can be your competitive advantage. By creating the kind of content that really solves your customers' problems, you'll be linked to and shared. Your content will rise in the search rankings and be actively shared on Twitter and Facebook.
How do you get started? Write down all of the most interesting and hard-to-answer customer questions and create online content from each question.
Do this every day for six months and you'll see a significant difference in your business.
Joe Pulizzi, author of Managing Content Marketing and co-author of Get Content, Get Customers.
Want to more social media marketing ideas for your small business?
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What do you think? What's your hottest social media tip for small businesses? Please share your questions and comments in the box below.
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