13 Jan 2014

Social Media for the Small Business

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So now that you are publishing all this great content on a regular basis, how do you get people to read it? Well, you share it on your social media channels, these channels can be very powerful distribution networks. Not only you get to share it through your business profile feeds, but your readers/followers can do the same; provided that they have the right social media buttons to share your content directly.

Ideally, your business blog is your content hub where you post periodical new content; your audience reads your content and shares it with their friends and followers. The idea is to bring new visitors back to your website and try to turn them into a lead by solving their problems with interesting articles, useful tips, and advice.

All this creation and sharing and goodwill spreading are called Content Marketing (Wikipedia Content Marketing,) the earliest examples of content marketing are from 1895 with John Deere’s magazine “The Furrow” a publication dedicated to helping farmers succeed. Although content marketing has been around for over a century the internet and social media has made it available for all companies; in some cases, it has become the level playing field allowing small businesses to compete with larger companies. Content Marketing and Social Media are the new way to market your business online, spreading the word that you and your company are good at what you do and sharing good videos and pictures of your product and or services. Luckily customers will comment and tell their friends about your business; in a way, it is like word of mouth, the best marketing possible, but on a bigger scale.

Don't just jump in and start creating accounts in every available network out there; you need to pick the right social networks where your audience (potential customers) are active.

When to share your content
Where you share, your content is almost as important as how often you share content.  All social networks have a feed in which you get to see what gets shared by the people and brands you follow. If you post too often (many shares in a small period) and clutter your follower feed, people will stop following you. On the same token if you share just the one time and when your followers are not online, your post will be buried by newer shares, and no one will get to see it. There are people, who recommend the best hours to share are off working hours; in my experience, I find it is the opposite.

The best social media networks for business:
There are hundred of networks where you can share links to your website or blog; I’m going to concentrate on the ones that I believe are more common and useful for your business website. One thing you should keep in mind when choosing which social share plugins to use is that unless the content is appealing to the reader, it doesn’t matter how many plugins you add to your site, your pages won’t get shared. When sharing your content in different social networks there is a protocol to follow on how often to post, and this varies depending on the Social Network.

Instagram (instagram.com)
Instagram is ideal for brand recognition, lots of big brands are on Instagram because of that reason: Coca-cola, Macy’s, Nike and Red Bull to name a few. If you can come up with excellent imagery from your business, you will have an easy time in Instagram and people will engage with you through the pictures you share. IG has added a couple of features that will enhance your story telling and following engagement; stories and multiple pictures per post.

Sharing: Post pictures often, but not so often that you fill people's feed with your images. Choose 2 to 3 good pictures per day and space them out throughout the day. Try different times of the day and see what works best. Add a comment and hashtags to your post, but don’t abuse either one of them. Keep the comment short (no more than a couple of lines) and use no more than 4 to 5 hashtags.

Facebook (facebook.com)
Facebook is the biggest social network in the world, and it happens to have the most plugins. Like Button and Like Box are the most commonly used plugins. To ensure real sharing be sure to use the Like Button and for adding new followers to your Facebook business page, use the Like Box. To eventually take advantage of Facebook ads and the great demographic info that Facebook provides for truly targeted advertising, be sure to set up a Facebook page for your business.

Sharing: Share once or twice (3 to 4 hours apart) and not the same content during the day.

LinkedIn (linkedin.com)
LinkedIn was launched in 2003 and currently has about 259 million in over 200 countries and territories. The most popular plugin from this network is their share button. Of all the share button out there, LinkedIn’s share button has the best interface, which allows you to share in different parts of LinkedIn the updates stream, Groups, Send to individuals or all three. They also have a Follow my business page button, but these business pages still need to prove if they are of any use. In my experience, LinkedIn groups are where the action is.

Sharing: Share often throughout the day but at 20 to 30 minutes intervals when but don’t share the same content more than twice a day.

Pinterest (pinterest.com)
Pinterest has an enormous active user base and still growing. They have few plugins; the pin button is the most used. The pin button is tricky to setup, and it needs an image to pin, so it makes it ideal for product page display and blog posts with pictures. Pinterest also offers business pages, and some big brands are being pretty creative with the use of Pinterest boards.

Reports say that Pinterest is generating more referral traffic than LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter combined, this could lead to a rethink how to present content on websites; adding relevant images to your blog posts can be advantageous to get pinned.

Sharing: Share once and in the right board category.

Twitter (twitter.com)
The king of microblogging (only 140 characters), Twitter is highly popular partly due to how easy it is to use. It is a great network for distributing your new content. They too have a sharing plugin and a feed plugin, which you can add to your website. The Feed plugin lets you display your latest or favorite tweets on your site - the sharing plugin is the tool that will enable your users to share your content.

Sharing: Share often throughout the day but at 20 to 30 minutes intervals, but don’t share the same content more than twice a day.

Social sharing is the equivalent of word of mouth, but with an unprecedented reach. Take advantage, plan time to share your content regularly and make sure it is easy for others to share your content.

For questions or other inquiries, leave a comment below or just use the contact form.

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