Friday, September 9, 2011

Social Media Marketing For Small Business: The Price Is Right!

When it comes to marketing most of the upfront money goes right out the window.

And advertisement in your local newspaper is likely to bring a less than 1% return; nobody uses a phone book anymore, but most of us still buy and ad for our business; and television and radio charge exorbitant rates for negligible returns (at best.)

So what's a small owner to do? Try social media.

For the most part, running an effective social media campaign can be done for nothing. Free. Nada. Gratis.

Yes, you need a plan and there is an investment of time, but considering all the tools are free and simple to use, this doesn't have to break the bank. Everything else about the effectiveness of social media marketing has more to do with the content you are putting out there then the dollars you are spending.

This means any returns you see from your investment in social media marketing are practically 100%. Much better than the rates for most traditional marketing methods.

And when it comes to getting started with social media marketing, plenty of (free) help is available, like this post by Drea Prentiss: "Managing Social Media Marketing from Scratch."

Driving home the importance of social media marketing to small business owners has proven to be a challenge to its champions. Although the number of small businesses that regularly market through social networks has increased over the years, only about 50% set aside any time and money, and only 12% consider it a must, according to a recent Hiscox survey.

You may be one of the enlightened few, however, who see the abundance of business development opportunities in the virtual social interaction frontier, especially when there’s less competition there compared to other marketplaces. If so, then you’re likely looking for ways to better manage your social media marketing activities. Like any marketing campaign, it can be a disappointing vacuum if it’s not done right. So here are 10 tips for small business owners that will help them get the most value out of social media:
1. Meet potential customers where they are most comfortable – Before spending a lot of time on a variety of social media channels, develop a profile (if you haven’t already) of your customers’ social media comfort levels and most frequently used sites or online tools.

Start by looking at the age group, gender, career, and other demographics, as well as the social media activity, of your best customers. If you don’t already, ask customers for their email addresses, Facebook profile names, Twitter addresses, LinkedIn profiles, etc. so that you can include them in the fun. Consider sending out a quick email survey to your mailing list to ask readers about their social media activities.

If you don’t have a lot of information with which to work, research typical social media behavior for these groups (Internet marketing consultant Roy Morejon provides many helpful statistics.)

Gathering deeper knowledge about your prospects’ online behavior can focus your efforts to get the maximum effect, and it helps you judge how much time you should dedicate to social media marketing.

Click here to read the rest of Prentiss' post.

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