How Social Media Can Help Your “Local” Business Reach International Customers
Social Media has literally changed the way we communicate, socialize and gather information. Rather than turning on the television to catch “Breaking News”, more and more people are beginning to access Social Media feeds via their smartphone, tablet or computer to get the latest up-to-date information. The trend really made its mark in the wake of the 2011 earthquake in Japan. Unable to access traditional modes of communication, citizens relied on Social Media to update family and friends on their status, check on their own loved ones and even gain important information about particular areas affected by this horrible natural disaster. More recently, Social Media sites became the lifeline to those in the Northeast United States before, during and in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. While many were without power for weeks, some were still able to access places with electricity to charge their devices and post status updates.
Social Media has weaved its way into the lives of people across the globe. For many, checking these sites has become as routine as drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning. Businesses have been able to seize the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and engage customers in ways like never before. While many still believe Social Media best benefits larger companies, small businesses are finding their own benefit to integrating this new technology as part of their overall marketing plan.
Imagine this…a craftsman in Germany who has been producing handmade pottery (popular locally) now has the ability, through Social Media, to generate “buzz” about his product not only throughout his own country and the rest of Europe – but internationally! While websites offer a presence on the World Wide Web, Social Media provides a method of actual interaction. The store owner can now implement strategies to increase followers and communicate directly and instantaneously with them – regardless of where they are in the world. The key to success is developing a Social Media plan which not only generates followers, but sparks interest.
Consider these helpful tips to increase followers:
Ensure social media links are included on every page of your website: Make it easy and convenient for people to connect with you. Most companies will place social links on their HOME page, but neglect to do so on the rest of the website. Be sure to place Social Media icons and links on every page of your website.
Conduct a drawing: Offer an incentive or prize once you reach a certain number of followers. The bigger the prize, the greater the chances your followers will continue to encourage their friends to connect with you, thus building and expanding your connections.
Offer coupons and/or specials: Not only are you generating interest in your product with a “call to action”, you are giving them an incentive to buy. Encourage your followers to also share the offer with their Social Media connections. This will promote your product to an entirely new group of people who may be interested enough to learn more and perhaps even become followers themselves.
Interesting posts are the key to sustaining followers. Below are some ideas you may want to consider to keep your Social Media efforts fresh and interesting:
Make it all about your customers: Offer useful information, such as tips, advice, articles, etc. Give your followers posts they look forward to reading. Often, companies make the mistake of trying too hard to “make the sale” rather than developing a relationship with their followers.
Interact, Interact, Interact!!!: Explore opportunities to engage your followers. This could be as simple as asking them to comment on a photo you post. Encouraging comments and feedback is also an excellent way to gauge interest in your products and even evaluate the demand for additional product lines.
Highlight your customers and clients: Consider interesting ways to highlight your customers or clients. Of course, be sure to get their permission before posting. Encourage your customers to send in photos of themselves using your product. Post photos from special events or sales. The opportunities are endless!
If you haven’t already done so, it is important to consider developing a Social Media strategy for your business. While Social Media should not be a replacement for traditional advertising and marketing, it is an important complement to your overall strategic plan.
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About the Guest Author:
Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including http://spanning.com. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.