Smaller businesses need to start thinking big. Some local companies are hitting the nail on the head and getting social media savvy to interact with their customers

Social media is really a highly effective way for small businesses to market and promote products and services. Having leveled the playing field when it comes to marketing and communication, your business can use social media to tell your story, and demonstrate your expertise on a global scale in real time with very little cost. The key is being able to identify the most relevant leads, and reach out to them in the right way to drive your business forward.

Here is how you can use social media channels to grow your audience and customer base, and build your brand and business in a strategic way.

Social and Mobile go hand-in-hand: Businesses of all sizes cannot ignore the significant impact of daily mobile use and mobile purchasing. 85 percent of Americans surveyed said that mobile devices are a central part of their everyday lives.According to Salesforce, with over 1 billion monthly active users, the Facebook mobile app is the perfect platform for reaching a high volume of buyers on the go. As with Twitter, Facebook also allows you to develop a schedule of posts with product deals, accompanied by compelling visuals, promo codes and direct links for purchase.

Get personal: Social media is a place for genuine engagements with consumers and often these dialogues result in loyal, long-term customers. In addition to promoting product deals, you can use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share non-product related stories and visuals that will evoke positive emotions and lead to “sharing”.In doing so, consumers will feel more connected to you and your brand, and be more inspired to purchase from you.

React effectively: Social networks can help you to discover problems or issues your clients are facing. If the problems or issues are with your business, you can react appropriately and in a timely manner. Ideally, you can correct the problem before it becomes a major issue.Social networking can help you identify what customers need and want. This can help improve your existing business services and products to better fit the needs of your customers.

Assemble referral sources: Not only does social networking provide a pool of potential new customers, but potential referral sources also use social networks. Your interaction allows you to connect with other business owners and representatives that have the potential to refer new business to you.

Add an online store directly onto social media platforms: You can optimize your online reach even further by adding a shopping cart directly onto your Facebook page, so your customers are able to shop and purchase without ever leaving Facebook.
You can also add a store to your WordPress blog or any other online site where you promote products. These tools tend to be mobile-responsive and adapt to any device, so you can ensure a seamless shopping experience for customers.

Don’t underestimate the selling power of a hashtag: Retailers continue to revolutionize the way consumers shop on social media. You don’t need highly sophisticated technology to produce results. Apply a similar strategy by using free social media sharing tools, such as Hootsuite, to schedule regular tweets regarding product deals, holiday campaigns or company storytelling. Each tweet should include a compelling visual, promo code, direct link for purchase and a relevant hashtag.
For example, Amazon has elevated the social commerce experience with #AmazonCart, which allows Twitter users to add products from tweets with a link directly to their Amazon shopping cart so they can purchase the item later.

Content is king: The direction, length, and type of content you should post will depend heavily on which social media platform you’re planning it for and what your business goals are. Make sure your content fits those goals perfectly. If you’d like to boost traffic to your website, try posting engaging content that users can only see more fully on your external site.

Provide value on social media: Social media isn’t just another online billboard. Whether it be a promotional offer, or providing helpful or interesting content on a relevant topic, giving your social audience something that they can use, benefit from or really enjoy will make for more engaged and loyal followers.

Be Active: Being present on social media isn’t the same as being active. Make sure you’re not just updating your own page, but participating in discussions and following the updates of your own followers to see where you might be able to provide personalized value.

Choose the right social platform: Generating new leads on every social platform is a daunting task for any company. Instead, identify where your customers, and target demographics are most active, and make sure you are there too.

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