There are so many different social media platforms these days and tons of trends in each of those channels. As a small business, in the face of such overwhelming information, it can be difficult to determine where your time and efforts are best invested in social media. Here are five of the most promising trends in which for small businesses to invest in 2012.
Go Beyond the Most Popular Social Media Sites
Though Twitter and Facebook at presently the most widely used and well known social media platforms, targeting your niche demographic in a successful business marketing campaign may require you to look beyond the big social media sites. In fact, for many smaller businesses, taking advantage of more local and geographically appropriate platforms like Yelp and BuyLocal is extremely important. The time investment for building and maintaining a presence on these more local social media sites is minimal, but the return on that investment can be substantial.
Invest in Geo-Social Media
One of the best ways for small businesses to get their name out there and build a strong and positive business reputation is to invest some time and energy in geo-social media like FourSquare, a free service provider that has by more than 20 million users at present. Such mobile social media applications allow individual users to “check-in” at, and review different retail, dining and other establishments via their mobile devices with GPS and internet access. The feed from geo-social media not only appears to other users of the application, but can also be shared on social networks like Facebook, allowing a small business to tap into and gain the attention of potentially hundreds of social network members for each geo-social media user.
Integrate Social Media and Other Communications
Up to now, you may have been sending out business-related promotions and communications via multiple means, like email marketing, direct mail and social network updates. Increasingly, the trend is moving to a more integrated and time-saving method of communication. Consider the benefits of sending a single communication to all members of your mailing lists, social networks and website account holders through more efficient methods. Build a single announcement and upload that information to a service provider website or software program like Vertical Response or iContact, which allows you to distribute the communication by email, social media and other means, as well as to track responses and related data.
Take Advantage of Social Media Surveys
The ability to create, distribute and track surveys through social media gives small businesses many strategic information gathering opportunities. Use surveys for gauging customer satisfaction, interest in new products or services, or to gather feedback on any range of business-related topics. Such surveys require minimal investment in terms of time and no direct monetary expense, making them an exceptional value for small businesses in particular.
Incorporate Customer Service in Social Media
Quality customer service has the ability to drive higher revenue and improve business reputation. It can also build brand recognition through satisfied customers sharing their customer experience with their friends, relatives and social media networks. Including customer service topics in your social media information sharing is beneficial, as is incorporating direct customer service contact through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It will take some doing to establish and to maintain, but the benefits for a small business in particular can be substantial.