Social Media Marketing for Small and Medium-sized Businesses

10 Ways to Develop Social Media Strategies Cost Effectively

Are you so focused on your business that you don’t have time to assess how to expand your reach through the use of social media marketing, let alone implement those strategies? If so, you’re not alone. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) tend to have more limited personnel and financial resources. This translates to the need to be more creative in how your business approaches social media to ensure it attains its objectives of raising awareness, expanding market share and improving customer loyalty. 

10 Ways to develop social media marketing strategies for small and medium-sized businesses

While social media marketing isn’t free, it’s a useful, cost effective addition to every small or medium-sized business’ plans. Here are ten points to get your social media marketing strategy on track. They’re worded as questions to get you thinking about how to apply these to your business.

  1. Does your business lend itself to showing off its work? Strutting your stuff brings to mind visual portrayals, like photographs and video, although it can include other presentation formats. Social media is very useful for businesses where prospects perceive there are high risks. Many bridal photographers use blogs to highlight their work while many bakers use Flickr to show off their masterpieces. Show real patrons using your services with before and after photographs. Don’t forget to get patron’s permission to use their likeness.
  2. Can you give prospects information they find useful? Think in terms of small bite-size chunks of content. Twitter is great for providing a tip of the day whether you’re an accountant or a massage therapist. Clothing stores could provide an outfit of the day. Think outside of the box when it comes to information. How about food recipes or scrap-booking?
  3. How do you solve people’s problems? At the core of most marketing is fulfilling prospects’ needs. Therefore, create content that helps people with their problems. For example, if you’re a financial advisor, why not give out tips on budgeting so that prospects have money to invest. Here’s some advice to create a professional blog.
  4. Does your product lend itself to some form of education? This is a great way to win prospects over. Teach them! Not the old-fashioned school marm but the fun stuff. Think: how to add memory to your computer or how to apply makeup. You can use videos, webinars or ebooks.
  5. Can your business disseminate entertaining content? This information doesn’t need to be your business’s main focus. Orabrush built its brand with the use of entertaining videos. Is there something funny or engaging about your product?
  6. Are there targeted or niche communities where your prospects and customers naturally congregate? While this doesn’t apply to all businesses, where it exists, it’s a useful way to participate in the community. You can participate in the social media community and advertise to targeted prospects. For example, yarn shops participate and socialize on Ravelry, a knitting community.
  7. Does your business tap into people’s passions and/or hobbies? When it comes hobbies and special interests, participants often make different spending tradeoffs. The strength of these interests is great since your customers want to share their share their hobbies and special interests using photographs, videos and blogs. This can apply to fishing as well as it can to quilting.
  8. Does your business provide reasons for people to gather in real life? What’s better than getting folks into your establishment, especially if they like your product offering? Use Meetup to help with the social media conversation and reminders. Wine and cookware stores have tastings, while bookstores have readings. My local yarn store uses Ravelry to arrange a monthly meetup.
  9. Do major blogs cover your business’s area of expertise? Instead of building your own blog following, contribute to blogs in your category by commenting and actively participating in the social media conversation. Write a regular column for one or more of these blogs to leverage their audience.
  10. Does your offering lend itself to creating a small online community and/or bulletin board? Before you think that you must build an expensive community, consider creating a small, targeted group such as LinkedIn groups for business-to-businesses or Yahoo Groups for smaller local communities. The benefit is that these groups can choose to meet offline as well as interacting online.

Regardless of where you start, what’s important for small and medium size businesses when they begin using social media marketing is to ensure that the content you create is optimized for your search keywords and integrated into the rest of your business plan.

Do you have any other suggestions that you’d add to this list? If so, please include them in the comments.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: Jurvetson via Flickr

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