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Small Businesses: Using Social Media as an Online Marketing Tool

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You probably have heard the term "social media" and you may be well-versed in using social media. If you’re a small business owner however, chances are you’re not. According to InfoGraphic, “many small business[sic] reported being overwhelmed by social media, with typical frustrations including having too many different social networking sites to manage, information overload … and staff shortages preventing them from realizing the full potential of these platforms.”

The primary advantage of social media is being able to interact with your market. Social media has the potential to be exponentially more powerful than traditional passive media such as television and radio. Social media allows you the ability to build your market, one person at a time, then directly serve and sell to your market, 24 hours a day, many times at zero cost (other than time).

Giving you an in-depth look at social media along with understanding the myriad of choices on what to use and how to use social media is beyond the scope of this article. We will however, offer you a very brief overview of three of the most popular social media platforms. With this overview, you will hopefully gain the motivation to investigate your options even further, begin realizing the full potential of these platforms, and ultimately broaden the reach of your own voice.

Facebook

  • TOS (Terms of Service) states users of Facebook must be 13 years or older
  • Objectionable material (nudity, adult language, hatred, etc.) is rarely found and can be reported
  • Post messages on your “wall” containing text and multimedia
  • Privacy of your messages is controllable in multiple ways (groups, friends only, friends of friends only, etc.)
  • Create business pages
  • Create multiple “tabs” for business pages (i.e., Welcome, Photos, Videos, Store, Specials, etc)
  • Customize business pages to fit your own unique branding
  • Create contests
  • Post links to other web pages or event announcements
  • Create news stories and event announcements
  • Post pictures and videos within posts or albums
  • People “Like” or “Recommend” you via direct invitation, ad campaigns, and sharing via your friends
  • Marketing is accomplished by building a network of “friends” or “fans” (used interchangeably)
  • Viral content is created by posting compelling content that is shared by your friends/fans to their friends, and so on.

Twitter

  • TOS does not state a minimum age requirement
  • Objectionable material is often found, and can be searched for
  • Messages are posted as text only on a public feed, called “tweets”
  • Multimedia can be added to one’s account profile and linked to
  • Web pages and multimedia can be linked to within posts but not seen directly within post.
  • Marketing is accomplished by building a network of “Followers”
  • Viral content is created by posting compelling tweets that are subsequently “retweeted” to their followers, and so on.

Blogs

  • TOS varies, but usually states users must be 13 years of age and prohibits objectionable material
  • There are a number of blogging services, the most popular of which include WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr
  • All blogging services allow you to create posts and link them together in a variety of ways, most popular of which simulates an interactive magazine
  • All blogging services allow pages to be any length, along with having a variety of multimedia embedded within pages
  • All blogging services provide a variety of ready-made templates, along with the ability to create one’s own, or customize existing templates
  • Blogs are “subscribed to” via RSS or Atom feeds
  • Marketing and viral content are both created much like a standard web page via promotion, word of mouth, ad campaigns and search engine optimization; there are no internal ways within blogging services to create traffic.
How do you use social media as a marketing tool? What is your favorite social media platform?
Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Earl Bowser

Earl Bowser is a native Californian staying constantly busy with a large variety of interests. Owner of Bowser Multimedia Productions, his passions include photography, film, online marketing, genealogy, writing, philosophy, entrepreneurship, travelling and world changing action. Be sure to check out bowsermultimediaproductions.com - Marketing Your Business for Online Success

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