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Acadiana Lifestyle

Wired For Business

03/25/2014 07:45AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier

By Michelle Matthews Calloway

If you are a small business owner, you know how important it is to reach your existing customers and attract new ones. The Internet has made it easier than ever before for small businesses to do just that, yet the explosion of the popularity of social media means the days of relying on a Web site alone have largely fallen by the wayside.
Social media is one of the foremost reasons many people now go online. While engaging in social media won’t turn a failing business into a successful enterprise overnight, read further to learn the numerous ways using social media may help breathe new life into your business and expand your customer base.

Use It To Increase Visibility
Estimates in early 2012 indicated that Facebook would reach the 1 billion users plateau by August of that same year. The social media giant just reached its 10th birthday and has exceeded expectations and predictions. Twitter, another popular social media platform, has more than 250 million registered users. Simply put, social media is more popular than ever before, and its popularity is growing by the day. Businesses can take advantage of this by joining social media and immediately increasing their visibility. And that visibility is constant, because social media sites are open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Additionally, social media platforms allow businesses to reach customers far and wide, nationally and internationally.

Use It To Promote Products
Social media can be used as a promotional tool. You can blog about your products to help potential customers better understand the products you sell or the services you provide – and customers won’t feel as if they’re being delivered a sales pitch.
Business owners can easily produce how-to videos via their own websites or the popular YouTube platform. The videos can explain the product, and any questions customers have can be simply sent via email or other social media outlets. A bonus of using this approach is that you won’t have to spend as much time trying to convert potential customers into actual customers. In addition, the informal nature of promoting a product via social media can make customers feel more comfortable about their decisions.

Use It To Promote Yourself
Though it can sometimes feel like the days of the successful small business owner is a thing of the past, social media can make it easier for small business owners to promote themselves and attract customers along the way. Research indicates that buying from large corporations tends to alienate consumers because most consumers prefer a personal, hands-on approach. Small business owners can use this preference to their advantage by allowing social media to tell their story. When customers know and feel a connection to the individual who is behind a product or service, they tend to trust the company more. As a result they experience a more personal connection than they are likely to feel with a larger company or corporation and are thus more inclined to make purchases.

Use It To Better Serve Customers
Business owners who engage in social media say they enjoy using social media because it gives customers a chance to share their thoughts on not only the products their business sells, but on other aspects of the company.  Small business owners can help their business by encouraging those who follow them on social media to share their thoughts about certain products or promotions. Doing so yields a two-pronged effect: the business owner first derives benefits from engaging the customers; second, business owners gain valuable feedback concerning what the customers like or dislike about certain products and services, and can then make suitable adjustments. Another bonus? This market research might once have cost small businesses a substantial amount of money, but now social media allows business owners to access this valuable information at relatively no cost!

Use It To Build A Network
Small business owners know that running a small business is not a one-man operation. Other small business owners and business consultants are valuable resources, and social media makes it easy to consult them for advice on how to turn a small business into a success.
A network of fellow professionals isn’t the only network social media platforms can help you build. Satisfied customers who take to social media to speak positively about your product can help local businesses build a network of loyal customers who don’t mind sharing their experiences with others. Word-of-mouth has long been a friend to small business owners, and now social media enables satisfied customers to share their experience with friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members who might one day become your next satisfied customer.

Try Using Social Media – And Watch What Happens
Small businesses often need all the help they can get to establish and maintain success. Social media can be a significant ally to your small business in a number of ways. Find the social media platform that works best for your small business, use that platform to your advantage and watch your business grow! 

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