By: Tim Sohn
Featured Photo: Tim in front of his favorite locally owned Italian Restaurant
While big brands such as Walmart and Home Depot have huge marketing budgets that allow them to purchase millions of dollars in print, online, radio, and TV advertising, small business owners have fewer resources when it comes to getting the word out about their products and services. Enter social media.
Social media lets small businesses market themselves, network with other professionals online, and improve customer service, for free or minimal cost. Small businesses can create company pages at no cost on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Foursquare. Having a presence on these platforms has search engine optimization value, increasing the likelihood that your business will show up in Google search results.
I recently gave a presentation to small business owners at social media and blogging conference NEPA BlogCon in Nanticoke, Pa. I invited Mario Bevilacqua, owner of the What the Fork food truck based in Scranton, to talk about how he uses social media to connect with customers and potential future customers. Bevilacqua predominantly uses Facebook, and he spends $2 to $3 a day on Facebook advertising. "I really find that works for us,” he said.
Social media advertising can be an effective tool for small businesses because the cost is drastically cheaper than other forms of advertising, such as newspapers. However, social media advertising should only be used as one part of your marketing/advertising strategy.
Facebook offers a variety of advertising options for small business owners, both display ads and sponsored stories in the newsfeed. The platform allows the business owner to set the maximum daily budget and specify which objectives it is trying to reach. Twitter also offers several options for small businesses, including promoted tweets and promoted accounts. Promoted tweets allow businesses to send targeted tweets beyond their followers based on a variety of factors. Promoted accounts let business’ Twitter accounts show up in the Who to Follow list, which recommends specific Twitter accounts to follow based on user history.
LinkedIn also now has sponsored updates, and Foursquare just recently made advertising available to all small businesses.
Brian E. Boyd Sr. wrote in Social Media for the Executive, “Social media takes time and careful, strategic thought. It doesn’t happen by accident.” This is so true. For small businesses, the challenge is finding the time. If you’re going to launch – or expand -- on social media, make sure you’re 100 percent dedicated to it, and give it time to work.
Have a social day!
Tim Sohn is CEO of Sohn Social Media Solutions, which offers social media education and marketing services to small businesses. Visit us online at SohnSocialMediaSolutions.com, on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SohnSocialMediaSolutions.com, on Twitter @editortim