Being a small business in a sea of corporations can make it hard to stay afloat. Often times, you are overshadowed by the seemingly unlimited advertising budgets of your competitors. However, the most effective methods of advertising often don't cost anything at all. Social media marketing is an immensely powerful tool for your small business if you know how to take advantage of it. By learning how to use social media properly, you can increase your customer base and sales.

The first important step in using social media to market your small business is learning to use data and analytics. See what posts are attracting the most attention and then tailor your future posts in a similar way. There are many tools out there that provide statistical services, such as Hootsuite. Use this to see what kinds of customers are sharing your information and what kind of followers they have in turn. Personalize offers to these customers and make an extra effort to reach out to the customers that don't seem to have an interest in your social media.

Another important tip is to focus on your local customer base. The chances of you going viral and reaching millions of potential customers across the globe is rather unlikely. Therefore, it makes more sense to focus your efforts on creating stable, personalized relationships in the community. Try to curate a small base of loyal and devoted followers that live physically close to your business.

Get Their Attention

Reward customers who check-in or post photos of your location on their social media accounts, as they are basically providing you free marketing services. Better yet, hold contests for giveaways or prizes, post quizzes to challenge their knowledge, or offer polls to show you care about the customer's opinion. The important thing to remember is not to bombard followers with constant posts about your products or services. Social media is about fun, and followers want to see that you are an interesting and interactive company with more to offer than just stuff.

Be sure to plan your social media posts in advance once you have analyzed all the data. Setting up posts in advance gives you ample time to appear organized and put-together on your social media sites. In addition, take advantage of special days that focus on your niche or specialty. If you sell nursing scrubs, do a special social media shout out to nurses during Nurses Week. However, even if you have all your posts planned out, always be ready to react quickly to any posts or comments. Respond to complaints with courtesy and address any concerns customers may have.

Followers = Profit

Social media marketing can be a challenge to those new to the web. However, after setting up your sites and establishing a solid follower base, it is an invaluable resource for marketing your small business. Online followers quickly translate to real life followers, which translates into pure profit.

~Tony Johnson

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