Networking Your Small Business Target Audience in Social Media

Social networking demands the attention of today’s small businesses... right along with online reviews and customer feedback. But, with time at a premium, where should you go to reach your customers and maximize your social media efforts? Articles all over the web tout one site over another, claiming this one is best or that one will draw your customers’ attention. What’s more, there always seems to be another emerging social media platform around the corner. Is it any wonder that small businesses get confused about where to focus their time?

Even before you make your initial foray into social media, defining objectives should be your first step (hint: stating that you want to increase sales is too general). Return on investment (ROI) will be different for each business depending on your goals. Drawing shoppers to eBay, a Facebook store or your website may each take on a slightly different tack.

Before you start utilizing a social media channel, you also need to understand and know your customers. You find them where they spend time on the Web and reach them with content appropriate for the various platforms. Keep in mind that social media channels are designed for “social networking,” not broadcasting – you must interact with fans and followers. Pepper your promotions not more than one in six of your posts on a particular platform.

Here’s a quick overview of the top social media communities you might want to be part of with your business:
  • Facebook. Facebook is personal. Here you need to reach customers on a personal level. Sharing information or facts that relate to your business and to customers’ everyday lives will bring you more likes and shares. Graphics and photographs are very appealing to this audience.
  • YouTube. YouTube for ecommerce is all about demonstrating your products. If you have a product that would benefit from demonstration, by all means make a short video. Embed or link to that video on your other social media channels.
  • Twitter. The short message service that has taken the world by storm is a great way to build your online community. But to be relevant and build trust on Twitter, you need to spend time online meaningfully contributing to the conversation, not just posting links to your website or to items for sale. Respond to questions and re-tweet comments or facts of interest. Your goal is to sell to a community, not to become a spammer.
  • Google+. If you deal in technology and deal internationally, Google+ may be ripe to help you find new customers. The site slants highly to men and the bulk of the participants on the site are in technical fields. The number one occupation on the site is Student, and only 32% of users are in the United States. All that said, it is a perfect platform to interact with those who appreciate technology. Engage with long-form posts and video content. Take advantage of Hangouts to build your reputation as an expert in your category.
  • Pinterest. The jury is out as to whether Pinterest is truly monetizing for the small business. Post selected items (by no means every item you sell) and be sure the links are updated to direct to the actual item for sale in your online store.