In Spring 2010, I started blogging, developed a facebook site and began tweeting! Since then, I’ve discovered it’s a lot of work. No wonder some people do this as a full-time job! As a small business owner, my number one priority is running my business … besides, of course, my family. But after hearing the buzz about social media, I decided to take the plunge and have since discovered that you can’t effectively use social media on an ad hoc basis. If you want it to be an effective tool for marketing, you need to carve out time every day to tweet, post messages on your facebook site, write blog articles, respond to comments from facebook fans and blog followers, and write articles for guest blog sites. So why have I taken on this additional work when my business already keeps me hopping? Because it works! The social media tools are a great way to drive traffic to your web site. Within the first month, I noticed a 200% increase in hits to my web site. And the greatest thing about the social media is it’s free advertising! There are definitely some do’s and don’ts. I’ve learned that a hard sell approach turns people off. Any marketing about your business has to be subtle. For example, if you position yourself as an expert in a field and then post articles on that topic, people’s awareness of you and your business, are increased. I am often asked to write articles on helmet safety because promoting helmet use is what Tail Wags Helmet Covers is all about! If you sell “green” products, an obvious topic for your articles is protecting the environment. Another important point is the need to keep your social media sites active. During the pre-Xmas period, I was working 12-hour days and then coming home to fill online orders. By the time I was finished each day, I didn’t have the energy to write blog articles and tweet. Because of this lull in activity, I lost some of my followers. Next year, I’ll have to pre-write several articles that can be posted at the last minute, thereby avoiding this problem. Social media is all about establishing relationships with your customers. You want to hear from them – it’s not a one-way communication of you talking to your customers (that’s the old fashioned advertising approach). In other words, you want customers to feel comfortable sharing feedback with you about your product. I love nothing better than receiving customer photos on my facebook site and hearing their stories about their activities while sporting their Tail Wags helmet cover. But you’ve got to invite that conversation because people won’t necessarily share that information if you don’t request it. What are your reasons for networking on social media sites? Do you do it for personal or business reasons or both? What lessons have you learned about social media along the way? I’d love to hear your feedback because we can both learn from each other.
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