The Small Business Administration defines small businesses as those operations with 500 or fewer employees. That means a lot of businesses that seem quite large are still treated as “small time” for categorization purposes, although there are stark differences in the way that a solo entrepreneur and an emerging corporation approach social media, a comprehensive tool to help market the enterprise.
Regardless of a company’s size, social media should play a significant role in getting the word out. Various tools including a company blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn should be used, with each offering particular advantages that the business owner should be aware of.
Every business should have a blog and that blog can be attached to the company’s main website. A business blog is an excellent tool for search engine optimization purposes as it can offer a fresh supply or relevant content, what the search engines look for when ranking your site. Your SEO efforts should be comprehensive and include the following.
First, be resolved to use a blogging platform that is ideal such as WordPress. With WP, you get a solid SEO-optimized platform to help your posts thrive online. Choose a colorful and easy to navigate them, download related plugins and optimize each page for relativity. Themes are available for free from WordPress or you can buy an optimized commercial theme and use it as your own.
Second, develop a content building schedule that is consistent. Not just any content will do, rather articles that are related to your business and can impart useful and interesting information to your readers. Articles should be at least 500 words long, employ relevant keywords, make use of header and photo tags, be split up into readable paragraphs and link to other pages with your site. You can also link your articles to other websites that are not your competitors.
Third, follow your site’s performance with the web tools you have on hand such as Google Analytics. You will want to find out where your traffic coming from, what people are reading and what action is being taken. Most of your readers will simply bounce off of your site, but others might subscribe to your blog, order more information about a product or make a purchase. Analytics can help you fine tune your campaign to optimize it for improved results. Sign up for Google Webmaster tools too — another free and powerful tool to help you gauge your website’s strength.
Since emerging on the scene in 2006, Twitter has attracted more than 500 million enthusiasts from across the world. This micro-blogging site has advanced revolutions, brought down governments and has made or broken celebrities in just one tweet. Clearly, Twitter is not a tool that should be played with, rather it should be understood and used wisely.
Creating a Twitter account is a simple process. Your user name should mirror your company’s name or something close to it. Use your company email address and have your profile point to your home page. Use a unique background such as your company’s logo and monitor Twitter for your keywords. Follow other users, share tweets and post an occasional message that includes hashtags and a link to your site.
With more than one billion users worldwide, Facebook is the largest social media site in the world. Facebook even surpasses most search engines in growth and is even challenging Google for supremacy.
With Facebook, you will want to create a business fan page and register your company’s name. Check out what your competitors are doing on Facebook and consider using their best practices for your page. This means carefully selecting your layout, colors, creating a profile and offering the type of interesting information that will cause people to like and follow your page.
Many businesses use Facebook to advertise their products and will use their pages to promote a contest. Some companies introduce a new product through Facebook and may also purchase ads to reach their customers.
When it comes to reaching other businesses and professionals, LinkedIn just may be the top choice among all social media websites. You will want to create a personal file and a separate company file on LinkedIn. You can also link your accounts to Twitter and purchase LinkedIn ads.
LinkedIn is also an excellent place to search for and post jobs including contract work. People have used LinkedIn to find investors and advisors, and to build their personal and business reputations. Some have found LinkedIn ideal for forging corporate partnerships — certainly, the buyer of your business just might be found on this site.
One of the challenges of managing your social media efforts is getting the work done. For larger businesses, hiring or reassigning an individual to spearhead this effort can be wise. This person can report to the head of company marketing and liaise with senior management to keep them apprised of various campaigns.
For smaller businesses including solo entrepreneurs, the challenge is finding the time to get the work done. With so many other responsibilities on one’s plate, the work of social media management may best be outsourced to a third party.
Smaller businesses might consider the services of a virtual assistant, an individual that can help manage your social media efforts or at least offer an important contribution. A VA can submit links to Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Delicious, Facebook and other important sites. This person can also monitor social media activity and offer reports to you as needed. Depending on your budget, you may find it beneficial to turn your entire social media efforts over to a qualified VA for management.