Business Resources

What is Social Media?

The easiest way to think of social media is to consider it networking on a massive scale. Thanks to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email newsletters, it's never been easier to stay connected to your customers and convert them to loyal customers-consider social media an integral part of your CRM (customer relationship management) program. Fortunately, access to WiFi or the Internet through your wireless phone or other wireless Internet connection means you can network whenever or wherever you are. But like a website, how you manage and execute these Internet marketing tools will determine how successful they work for you.

The key is to think of social media as an informal network, not an extension of your small business marketing and advertising strategy. As such, social media depends on two-way relationships to work. And like any personal network, the more visible and engaged you are, the faster your network grows. You'll need to figure out a way to get people to follow you. It could be a weekly online-only special, or sale which you promote in your store or office.

Keep in mind that what you post on your small business's Facebook page and the updates made to your Twitter feed should be personal, honest, and authentic. The customers who join your social media networks aren't there to be sold something every time, they're there because they like what you do and how you do it, and they want to make sure they don't miss any developments in the ongoing story of your small business. Got a new shipment of previously sold out item? Put a note up on Twitter. Need to find a worthy charity to take some unsold inventory? Ask your network on Facebook and let them tell you. (Of course, be aware that social media opens the door to customers to post negative comments about your business.)

The payoff for building these personal, two-way relationships comes from the access you gain to your followers' networks as they refer the thousands of people on their collective Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts to your small business.