Why Social Media Is Important for SMBs, Plus 5 Helpful Tools
The internet is an extremely powerful tool for businesses that want to build an online presence and attract customers. Unfortunately it can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially if you have other areas of your business that need attention, such as finances and overall management.
Fortunately, it isn't that hard to make the jump to social media. Facebook and Twitter are both great social networks to start on, and by far the most popular. With billions of users on Facebook and over 500 million users on Twitter, it's not too difficult a task to reach customers from around the world.
So where to start? First off, you should treat customers on social media just like you would in real life - they're not robots, and neither should you be! Be friendly, timely in your communication, personable, and most of all engaging. For example, treat customer issues just like you would at the counter - and instead of marked down price tags, try promoting online promo codes and even freebies. There are literally countless ways that you can leverage social media to market your SMB.
The good news is that there are hundreds of available and affordable tools online to help you manage your social media accounts, allowing you to focus on other areas of your business. Some of these tools can help you schedule posts throughout the week, give you a general overview of your accounts, and even allow internal team collaboration to handle customer support tickets via social media. Below are a few affordable tools worth mentioning:
Buffer is a very simple scheduling tool, that you lets you schedule social media posts as far in advance as you'd like. You no longer have to post manually to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn - buffer lets you send posts to each of these social networks, and even has a nifty queue feature so that you don't have to manually set a post time. Other features include basic analytics and team collaboration.
It's only $10 a month to start, and pays off quickly - saving you hours of manual social media posting.
HootSuite is an all-in-one social media dashboard that lets you manage your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+ pages all at once. It's similar to Buffer in that you can schedule posts (even in bulk), but goes one step ahead by displaying your social media feeds and lets you engage by way of like, comment, mention and favorite.
HootSuite pricing ranges from free for management of 3 social media profiles, to several hundred dollars for unlimited team collaboration and social media profiles. You'll probably want to start out with their $10/month tier, which includes management of 50 profiles and a bunch of cool team features.
Feedly is the next generation RSS reader - it lives in the cloud, so that it can display your feeds across several devices including desktop, iOS, Android and more. RSS feeds are great for discovering relevant content to share via your social media channels.
The best thing about feedly is the built-in social media sharing integration, and it even works with buffer. Feedly is free, but to make use of most of its sharing features, you'll need to pay $5/month.
Mention and Google Alerts
Want to track a certain topic, or are you looking for media coverage about your business? Mention is a great app that sends you notifications whenever one of your saved searches finds something relevant, so that you don't have to manually search across the internet. Mention searches social networks, websites and the overall internet for articles that include your search terms. You can then share the content directly from the Mention app. Pricing starts at $29 for 3,000 "mentions" (web results containing your search keyword).
Alternatively, you can use Google Alerts to track media coverage and topics across the web. It's free, but the only drawback is that it searches for content only through the Google search engine, so it can miss important content at times. I use both Google Alerts and Mention, just to make sure I'm not missing anything.
Social media can be an extremely powerful outlet for your customers to get the best updates and deals from your business. That one Tweet can go a very long way!
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