Unless you've been living under a rock for several years, chances are you know - or at least have heard about - all the different types of social media outlets populating the Web.
From Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn, the avenues of social media seem endless. Small-business owners are trying to get in on the trend, and many have had success crafting their brand through these outlets.
But if you're a small-business owner relatively new to social media, all of the options might seem overwhelming. According to Heather Wied, Pubsoft's marketing director, each outlet has its pros and cons. Weid told Social Barrel that small businesses should have a well-defined marketing strategy in order to capitalize on their investment in social media. She said it's important to try to find the networking sites that your target audience spends the most time with. It can be difficult to grasp where a target audience is because the social media fields are constantly shifting.
"The best social network for you is dependent on your target market," Wied said. "This is something that gets lost in small-business strategy. You want to be on all the different networks because you want the most exposure, but you should focus your efforts and use networks where your customers are."
Namely, if your target age range is teenagers and young adults, Facebook was once a solid place to start for marketing strategies. That's not necessarily the case anymore, as young adults are now rushing to trendy outlets such as Instagram and Snapchat. Thus, you might want to jump on some of these new outlets for the long haul.
It's also important to choose what social media network entices you. Don't pick a network you don't like just because you think it might help you get a few more followers.
"Do the things that interest you," Wied said, noting that this is especially vital for small-business owners considering Twitter.
Wied said because of the short life span of a tweet, business owners need to post frequently on Twitter in order to make it a valuable tool for their business.
The cost of running a social media account
While starting a social media account on most major networks is free, keeping up with the account - creating strong content and being accessible to your customers - is a serious time commitment.
Customers expect real-time responses when they are on social media, and if you fail to provide this through your channel, you can bet that consumers will look elsewhere.
To be successful at social media marketing means you must fully grasp the strengths of each platform you are focusing on. You'll want to know what features you can use and how you can use these features to carry the blueprint you've laid out.
Get customers attached using social media
Don't use social media bombard your customers with non-stop posts. It's best to be selective. These outlets should be used to establish a community, build a fan base and entice potential customers through building communication and an emotional attachment through your chosen network.
Standing out on social media
Richard Easton, a 26-year-old social media user, was turned on to a family owned Turkish restaurant, Mangal 2, through its sassy Twitter commentary.
"Some of the tweets are a bit crude and provocative, but it's real and it's got a voice instead of just Instagramming food images and saying today's special is so and so," Ferhat Dirik, Mangal 2's Twitter aficionado, told Bloomberg.
In December, Dirik's tweets earned him a job as a social media editor at the U.K.'s Daily Mail newspaper.
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