If you’re sidestepping social media marketing because you get your business through word of mouth, there are two things you need to hear in 2014:
Your work is so good it’s moved customers to recommend you. But even with this great reputation, you are still short selling yourself because you aren't using social media for marketing and networking to let more people know about you. The good news is it’s never too late to talk about it through social media tools.
LinkedIn is the new Yellow Pages: a business will be passed up altogether if it can’t be found on LinkedIn. According to the Pew Internet and Social Networking Project, 20% of adults who actively participate in social media networking use LinkedIn. A basic LinkedIn account is free. Follow the user-friendly wizard and create your optimized LinkedIn profile. Once you have your profile set, search for customers who are on LinkedIn (there is a tool that searches your email account for names on LinkedIn) and send requests to each one asking for your pages to link. After they accept your invitation to link, ask for endorsements of your business or specific skills you have listed on your page. These endorsements are as valuable as the customer testimonial page you have on your website. Join LinkedIn groups matching your professional interests. Read and contribute to group posts and discussions to learn about new opportunities, developments, and issues which can impact you and your customers.
Everybody tweets! According to Pew, 18% of adults who are online use Twitter. Like LinkedIn, Twitter is free and as a bonus it is ridiculously easy to use. Take a few minutes to set up an account, look around the site, and you will see why more than 550 million people subscribe to Twitter to keep up with sources they know and respect. Tweet about items you think would interest your customers. For example, if you’re a CPA, tell your customers about the new option to claim deductions for home-based businesses on Schedule A instead of Schedule C. Or if you’re a physician, tweet an article (maybe one written by you?) about how the American Heart Association messed up on the new statin drug recommendations. Link your Twitter feed to your LinkedIn account and your website to maximize its reach.
In spite of media backlash, Facebook remains the king of social media. Pew says 67% of adults who are online use Facebook. New research indicates that Facebook is now the most trusted online source people use to get recommendations for products and services. Facebook’s business pages provide helpful statistics and insights about who’s been checking out your page and Liking it. However, you or an employee must check your page pretty often for two reasons:
Before you start a Facebook page, look at other business pages to see the comments they attract and how they handle negative ones. For extreme examples, the Facebook pages of your state or US Representative or Senator can provide quite an education in Facebook awareness. If your business relies on word of mouth marketing to generate revenue, it’s worth your time to get involved with social media. There’s no better way to increase the word of mouth you’re already benefiting from.