You know how important a website is to your business. But did you know that using social networking tools may be just as important?  A recent study found that 91% of experienced social marketers see improved website traffic due to social media campaigns.1 Many small business owners are also finding that their activity on social media sites helps improve their search engine optimization in local searches.

Social Media Drives Word-Of-Mouth Referrals

Potential customers can act as brand ambassadors on social media sites. This, in turn, can lead to more business for you. A recent study by Market Force in Boulder, Colo., found that “81% of U.S. consumers are influenced by their friends’ social media posts, while a comparable 78% are influenced by vendors’ posts, suggesting that company-driven social media content is surprisingly powerful in driving purchase decisions.” There are plenty of other good reasons using social networking will help businesses in 2013:

  • 79% are generating more quality leads.1
  • Nielsen estimates that social media and blogs reach 80% of all active US Internet users, of which there are 245 million.

“Just being online is not enough to leverage digital channels to drive business imperatives,” says Kathy Bloomgarden, Ruder Finn co-CEO.

So where to begin?

Think of being active on social media sites like Pinterest and Facebook as part of your overall marketing strategy. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Ask where your customers spend their time online.
  • Make it easy for customers to contact you by always including your email, website and phone number.
  • What is your business’ expertise? Post that information (content) and make it engaging, useful and relevant.
  • Adding a photo or video to your posts can increase the life of your content by 16% and 9% respectively.2
  • Share and encourage others to share from your social media pages.
  • Feature calls-to-action or ask for reviews to encourage word-of-mouth referrals.

An Investment of Time

Being active on social media for your business may be perceived as a free marketing tactic, but remember, it does take time, which as a small business owner, is at a premium. To keep from feeling overwhelmed, decide how much time you can dedicate to social media activities. Other ideas are to focus your social media time where your customers are spending their time or outsource and hire a social media consultant.

The Social Media Savvy Business

Here are a few ideas to kick start your efforts:

  • Add a link to your social media pages in your email signature and on your website.
  • Spell out the links in your advertising and marketing collateral.
  • Add share buttons to your website or blog.
  • Add your social media site addresses to your business cards.
  • If you have a newsletter, add share buttons and links to your social media site.
  • Post your newsletter articles on your social sites.
  • Consider posting discounts or coupons.

Consider your activity on social media sites like Facebook as part of your marketing strategy. The time you put into engaging with your customers online will pay off in more loyal customers and larger sales. What other ways have you promoted your social media presence? Let us know; we’d love to hear from you.

Here are a few good articles to help you increase your social media presence:

The 10 commandments of online etiquette: Ragan’s PR Daily

10 Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Can Avoid: Forbes

How Small Businesses Are Using Social Media:

Sources: 1 – Media Bistro 2 – Blackbox Social Media

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