How to use social networking to boost your small business

Social media icons

Social media iconsIf you’re a self-employed mum or dad who runs a small business, you’re probably feeling the financial pinch.

With consumer spending down and the economy in poor shape, cost cutting has become the order of the day for many small firms. And expensive marketing strategies have become a luxury many business owners simply can’t afford.

The good news is, you can use online social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and blogs to promote your business – without spending anything at all.

And because you can operate them all from the comfort of your computer, you can make technology work for you while looking after the kids at home.

Start a blog

Writing a blog is one of the most effective free ways to tell others about your business, and about any new products and services you’re launching.

There are several blog publishing systems – like Blogger and WordPress – that are free to use, and will take you through the process of setting up a blog step-by-step.

Read other blogs on subjects you’re interested in, and try to join in the discussion by commenting on posts. Once your blog is up and running, this is one of the best ways to get people to click on your profile and find out who you are.

The right CRM system for your business are those that really demonstrate the enthusiasm of the writer, and perhaps give a little peek into his or her personal life.

It’s also important to update your blog regularly, to remind people you and your business are on the scene.

Use Facebook

Lots of small businesses also choose to set up pages on Facebook, to let supporters know about latest developments, and to post photographs of new products.

Try to encourage comments and discussions on your page, by posting questions and running small giveaways.

And once you’ve persuaded people to ‘like’ your page, remember that everything you post will pop up in their news feed. That means it’s important not to post too frequently, or you’ll bombard supporters with messages and risk putting them off.

Join the Twitterati

Many of the rules that apply to blogging and Facebook also apply to Twitter.

Some small businesses manage to use Twitter as an excellent free marketing tool, building up thousands of followers and attracting widespread publicity.

However, Twitter users are quick to ‘unfollow’ if you bombard them with promotional links, so you need to judge your tweets carefully.

Once you’ve set up a Twitter account, start by following the people and organisations that interest you – or are related to your business.

Each one will receive an email telling them that you’re following them – and some will choose to follow you in return.

It is then important to keep these followers loyal, and attract new ones. To do this, you need to show interest in what other people have to say, ‘retweet’ messages you particularly like, and post genuinely interesting updates.

You can, of course, let people know about your new products or services as well – just not too often!