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    The power of social networking for small business

    Sam Mutimer

    What social media could do for you as a small business owner?

    It is hard to ignore the popularity of social media, as it seems to be everywhere these days. Websites that enable people to connect, converse and learn online have become one of the biggest ways of communicating. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn are household names and one in two Australians use social networking sites.
    Still thinking this trend won’t last? Think again.
    Despite what many people think, social media is not only used to have a chat with mates. It’s a stage on which people show who they are and exchange information about products they like or dislike. It is a place where opinions are formed and people are open to a conversation.

    In our experience using social media is an amazing way to market your service. Networking sites/ blogs can reach up to 72% of active users in Australia! Many businesses, small or large, have benefited from its possibilities and found a way to start a conversation with their customers. In social media marketing being open and honest are keywords.
    For you, as a small business owner, this can be a great way to create a large and interactive network without having to invest a large amount of money. Social media gives you the opportunity to get into direct contact with possible clients and truly brand your service.
    Some of you may already have a personal social media account and some of you may not even know where to start. Today you will find out! We have written down some easy steps with which you can learn ho to use social media for your own coaching business.

    Where to start
    There is so much going on, on the internet that it is hard to be noticed. If you want to reach your clients you need to distinguish yourself. Find what makes you unique! To be aware of what’s going on and keep yourself up to date on developments is the first step in using social media for your business.
    To find out who you are and where you want to go, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
    “What business am I in?” (what does the industry world look like, how do others reach their potential clients, what place do I take in this world?)
    “ Who am I trying to reach?” (what potential clients am I looking for, what kind of people are they?)
    “What story do I want to tell?” (how do I want to present myself, what idea do I want people to have about me?)
    “What do I want to achieve using social media?”
    Just like driving a car without knowing where your going will probably not lead you to your destination, using social media without a strategy will most likely turn out to be a disappointment. If you want to use social media to benefit from it you need a specific strategy. A strategy which explains exactly what your goals are and how you want to achieve them. Here are seven questions that could help you set up a great strategy!

    1. Describe your company in 20 words
    2. What defines your company and makes it unique?
    3. What are your trying to achieve in terms of sales or starting a conversation with your customers?
    4. How will you measure your success in Social Media. When will you have achieved your goal?
    5. What audience are you focussing on and what do they know about you?
    6. How does your audience use Social Media
    7. How will you use all this information to reach your audience? Think about how to implement honesty, humanity and transparency as Social Media marketing is impossible without them.

    Choosing what is right for you
    Social media is forever changing and innovating. So how do you choose which media to get involved in? Most likely you will choose a mix, but not all social media will suit you and your and the people your trying to reach. To make it a little easier for you we’ve summed up the leading social media on the web!
    Type 1: Social Networks
    Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace
    A community where people connect others with similar interests to their profile.You could use it to participate, discuss, keep in touch with you clients and raise awareness for your “brand”. These communities are very popular and also have a lot of business pages. Nowadays these websites are frequently used to look up information about services, brands and companies.
    Type 2: Blogging
    WordPress, Twitter
    An online journal that regularly shares information on certain subjects. Twitter is special and popular in this category since you are only able to use 140 characters. These websites are used to share information, to discuss and to keep in touch.

    Type 3: Media sharing
    Flickr,Youtube, wikis, Slideshare
    Websites on which people can share their own video’s, photo’s and information. Except for the wiki’s, people can comment on the media shared and upload their own. These kinds of media can help you give a face to the company through uploading video’s and photo’s.
    How you are going to use these examples depends on the strategy you choose and who you want to reach.
    For instance: you could start a videoblog on health if you specialise in helping people lead a healthier life. You could simply tweet inspiring quotes on how to achieve goals in your life and inspire future clients, or set up a Facebook business page on which you live stream advice!
    The options are limitless and so is the competition.
    Just be yourself, be honest and think carefully and creatively about your strategy.
    Do’s and don’ts
    1. Be aware of all the changes happening around you on the web
    The internet is always changing, in order to participate in these changes and remain innovative you have to be aware of what is going on online. So subscribe to blogs and get online!
    2. Don’t expect overnight success
    Social media can work very fast, but it usually takes a while to build a strong network of followers. Have some patience.
    3. Stick to your style and story
    In order to be recognisable and clear to the people your trying to reach you need to tell the same story for all social media.
    4. Be authentic
    Be yourself, be authentic. People won’t listen or interact if they don’t believe you are being honest.
    5. Interact and return on engagement
    You need to work to connect people to your business and earn their trust. This doesn’t happen spontaneously! Therefore make contact with people, respond to their messages and start an honest conversation.
    6. Build a strong network
    A group of people actively following what you do is the base for successful social media marketing.
    7. Don’t try to reach “ everyone”
    Social media is al about niches, small groups of people with similar interests. You cannot reach everyone! You have to look for a niche that suits what you have to offer.
    8. Update you status and website regularly
    Newsfeeds are the main reason people visit and sharing are main reason people visit social media profiles. If you don’t refresh often they will lose their interest and you won’t come up in newsfeeds.
    9. Be subtle
    People will recognise a marketing stunt directly when they see one.
    You can no longer ignore what social media can do for you. In these days, not using social media to your advantage, is throwing a way a chance of endless free publicity and a strong connection to (future) clients. Websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube offer a great way for you to reach the people you want to help and inspire.
    If you weren’t already active on social media we have hopefully made the step to do it a little smaller. You may not write a blogpost immediately, but you definitely will know where to start!
    What springs to mind after reading this? How can we help further? Hit us up below in the comments section.