Why Most Small Businesses Fail At Social MediaDespite its tremendous impact on marketing, social media is still a relatively new and ever-evolving phenomenon.  As is the case with most emerging marketing techniques, many small business owners are uncertain how to leverage its power, but they know social media cannot be ignored.

Many small businesses fail in social media because they do not approach it for what it is – both a marketing medium and a customer service medium. The key to success in both these areas is the same.

Here are some tips on how to avoid the most common mistakes made by small businesses.

Know Your Audience

Many businesses blindly broadcast their marketing message with no regard for who these people actually are. Although social media allows businesses to streamline their communications, at its heart, social media is a very personal medium that provides unprecedented opportunities for one-to-one conversations with your customers and prospects.

To gain a better understanding of who your audience is, compile your Twitter follower and Facebook fan lists can compare them to your email database of existing customers. This will give you a much clearer idea of what types of customers are engaging with you on social media and present new opportunities to nurture these relationships.

Reward Followers

Research has shown that the number one reason customers follow businesses on social media is for the opportunity to receive exclusive deals and offers. Yet many businesses fail to offer such incentives.

You might consider posting a special offer on your Facebook fan page or Tweeting it prior to distributing it to your general customer database. Be sure to use forward-to social features in all email communications and promote your social media presence in all creative assets as well as on your company Web site.

Analyze the Data

Many businesses fail at social media because they ignore the wealth of information it can provide. There are numerous analytics tools available at little or no cost and these tools can provide insight into who is engaging with your business through social media and, equally as important, how they are distributing your message across their own social networks.

Be Consistent

Finally, success in social media requires consistency.  It has been said that social media is a lot like owing a pet.  Both require regular feeding if they are to survive.  Regular engagement is essential to the success of any social media strategy.

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