Running a small business is tough—paying loans, hiring quality employees (and retaining them), keeping your customers happy—all with a smile and making it look effortless. Some months are better than others. With all the pressure to keep performing and keep redefining yourself, it’s hard to keep up with everything.
Now imagine no new customers walking through the door or calling your sales line. After your existing customers fade out, there’s nothing left. Now what do you do? For some, this is probably hard to believe.
But the reality is that, in the coming years, this will be what more and more small business face. Why? Lack of an online presence. With more and more consumers making their purchasing decisions on the spot and from their phone, if the coffee shop on the corner downtown doesn’t have a website or a Facebook Page, no one is going to find them.
I understand that on top of submitting inventory orders and doing taxes, the last thing many small businesses want to do is put more of their precious, valuable time into social media. But it’s no longer an option—it’s a requirement. If you don’t know where to start, let me help you out.
Facebook for small business
The king of social media is still Facebook. Over a billion people across the world use Facebook to stay connected with friends and—here’s the kicker—discover new products and brands. If your business isn’t on Facebook yet, start now. Like, right now. Stop reading and come back.
The four basic elements of every Facebook Page:
- Profile photo: this is probably your logo. If not, show off your star product or service.
- Contact information: if you want people to find your business, you better tell them how to do so. A phone number, street address, and open hours are crucial.
- About description: this is where you get to tell the world about yourself. But keep this to no more than a paragraph, and keep your sentences short and simple.
- Quality content: if you want to engage with your consumers, you have to give them something to engage with. Don’t promote your product or brand—promote the emotion that you want consumers to feel. Before you start to share your Page with the world, populate it with at least five posts, including images.
Once you’ve got those four things down, it’s time to start having some fun. Upload image galleries, ask your Facebook friends to like the page, and request a free window cling from Facebook to hang, informing your customers that you’re (finally) on Facebook.
Twitter for small business
Twitter used to be the fun “add-on” social channel for small businesses to jump on once they thought they’d mastered Facebook (newsflash: nobody’s ever going to master Facebook). Now, it’s a way to interact with hundreds of millions of potential customers. Just like Facebook, your Twitter page needs a profile photo and basic contact information.
The four basic elements of every Twitter profile:
- Steady stream of content: because of the immediacy of Twitter, messages quickly get lost on Twitter. To reach your customers at the optimal times, post a message during traffic hours (7–9 a.m. and 4–6 p.m.). But they shouldn’t say the exact same thing. Mix it up to keep things fresh.
- Images: even though all of your posts across all channels should have images, Twitter is now the place you absolutely need an image to stand out from the rest. Crop it to 1024x512px so Twitter doesn’t crop any of it for you.
- Quality base of people and brands to follow: Twitter is awesome to engage with your customers but you can also build relationships with other businesses. Follow some other local, small businesses and community leaders. They’ll appreciate the attention and will probably follow you back (eventually).
- Retweets: unique to Twitter is the retweet feature. This allows you to share exactly what someone said with your followers while giving credit to the original author. See something great another small business said? Give ‘em a retweet.
Beyond the basics, you can also get into engaging your customers on a consistent basis, spending a little bit of money to advertise your account and content, and even jumping on other channels, like Instagram, Snapchat, and Google+. If this is making your brain hurt a little bit, drop me a line. Let’s chat about setting up a plan for your small business.