How To Grow Your Small Business Using Social Media

Are you a small business owner looking for ways to grow your business? Are you looking to attract more leads to your business, or have heard about Social Media Marketing, and now want to try it?

As a small business owner you face many challenges – limited capital, minimal support staff and having too much to do in what seems like very little time. So, how do you grow your small business without heavy investment in marketing and advertising? Answer – through the use of technology. Web 2.0 provides you with various tools and techniques that help you to generate leads and increase the exposure of your home-based business. Social media is one such tool. Here’s all you need to know as a small business owner to begin increasing revenues using social media.

What is Social Media?
Social Media is a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, GooglePlus, and MySpace.

What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is using the above mentioned platforms to reach a new audience of consumers and create product brand awareness. By spreading word of a product from user to user, Social Media Marketing strives to gain greater legitimacy for a message because it is shared between trusted “friends.”

Which Social Media Channels are most popular?
Studies show that Facebook & Twitter are most popular social media channels followed closely by YouTube and LinkedIn, GooglePlus.

Why should Social Media Marketing Interest me?
If you think this kind of Marketing is not for you, think again. These platforms offer a large bundle of benefits to small business owners. Here are some reasons why you should consider using Social Media for your business.

Exposure: As a small business owner you rely largely on network marketing to channel leads to your business – which, in turn relies on your interaction with people. This is the core notion of what Social Media is! But Social Media offers virtually unlimited opportunities to interact with people – millions of them! With this interesting form of marketing, your business is no longer limited to local leads; you will find leads coming in from a diversified geographic market!

Zero-cost: While other marketing media would be expensive, this type of marketing is relatively free, or requires negligible monetary investment. It’s a great low-cost way to get your message across.

Improved web presence: Being on popular social media platforms strengthens your web presence. The more people talk about you on Facebook or Twitter, the greater are the chances of your business being found on relevant web searches such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing.

Direct contact with prospects: These platforms put you in touch with your customers directly. You can have one-on-one contact with them, know what they really want.

Go viral: Such marketing offers you the opportunity to go viral with your marketing. Think about this. You put up a video about your business on YouTube. 10 people like it, and five of them share it with their friends, who in-turn share it with 20 more people. This is known as “viral marketing,” and it can be a very effective method to increase your lead generation.

What is a Social Media “game plan” and why should you have one?
A social media game plan is a process consisting of a few simple steps that can help you achieve your social media marketing objectives. The social media arena is large and you can get lost in it if you don’t play by the rules. There’s a lot of competition and you have to have a clear plan if you want to stand out of the crowd and get noticed.

Your ideal Social Media game plan
A typical game plan for your business should consist of these four steps

  • Build your network
  • Propagate your presence
  • Stay connected
  • Monitor

Step 1 – build your network: The first step is to search for and add those users to your network whom you think fall into your target audience segment. When placing a request to add users to your network, it is always better to accompany such requests with a personalized message. You can also look for and join groups that pertain to your line of business. For example, if you are a business selling Health drinks and other health-related products, you could join groups where topics such as nutrition, diet or health are discussed. Such groups provide you audience for the products you have to offer. However, when in a group, do remember to ADD VALUE. Answer questions that you are equipped to answer, actively participate in discussions, be subtle and don’t aggressively “push” your products.

Step 2-propagate: The next step is to announce your Social Media presence. You can do this by adding links to your social media pages on your website, e-mail signature line or newsletter, if you have one. You are out there with your business-announce it!

Step 3-stay connected:The third step is to stay connected with your fans and group members. Social media marketing initiative is easy to start, but requires effort to maintain. And like many networking efforts, results are usually not immediate. Acquire permission from group members and others on your network to send e-mails. You can then e-mail relevant content to people on your network. The key here is to send RELEVANT, VALUE ADDING content-not an advertisement of your products/services. If you are a health-drink selling company who is also a part of the diet and nutrition group, you can send links such as ’10 Best Anti-Oxidant Rich Fruits’ and then perhaps add an image and some information about your product, encouraging people to get in touch with you if they’re interested. This approach will be better-received than just sending the prospects an e-mail flyer totally dedicated to your product.

Dos and Don’ts
While social networking is all about human interaction and cannot be strait-jacketed, here are some tips that will come in handy.

What you should do?
Add value to your contacts: Always add value to your contacts. Always! Provide them useful information, tips and other interesting facts that they can use. For example, Jane, a home-based business owner sells health drinks and weight loss products. So, it makes sense for her to provide her audience with interesting articles on the topic of weight loss.

Be consistent in your online participation: It is not a one-time effort. It is about building a relationship… and relationships take time. Be consistent in your social media communication. Have an interesting tweet/post/update at least every day. In some few cases, multiple postings a day are even better-but don’t forget rule#1-add value. Your posts shouldn’t sound like pointless ramblings or advertisements of your product/service.

Pay attention to what’s being discussed: If you have joined a forum or a group, actively participate in relevant discussions. Use your specific, professional knowledge to help others. Contribute to add depth and dimension to a discussion.

Conversation is the key: As mentioned before, social media marketing thrives on relationships. To build a strong relationship with your prospects, you need to engage in a conversation with them. Maintain a 2-way communication between you and your audience. Take genuine interest in what they have to say and follow up on comments or observations that are made.

Thoroughly know the subject you are talking about: Position yourself as an expert on these platforms. But be sure that you know what you’re talking about. Research if you aren’t sure of something. Mistakes on these platforms spread quickly and damage the reputation of your business.

Personalize your interaction: It’s advisable to personalize your interaction with your audience. Inquire about an event or occasion posted on a Wall, such as a recent trip, or “like” their vacation pictures on Facebook.

Portray your individuality: The biggest advantage small business owners have over large corporations is the fact that they are much smaller and haven’t lost that real-person feel. Let your audience know the person behind the business. Make sure your interactions include a personal side!

Respond to your customers’ grievances ASAP: Did you know that 88% of customers say unanswered complaints on social media sites deter them from doing repeat business? And deleting customer complaints is even worse! So make sure you resolve your customer’s complaints on social media platforms immediately. Even if you can’t resolve them, at least respond so that they know they’re being heard. Acknowledge everything.

Mention your Social Media presence: Advertise your profiles. Always provide links to your social media profile in your website, blog, e-mails and even print materials. For websites and blogs, it’s best to add Facebook and twitter widgets which provide a live feed of what’s happening on your Facebook/twitter page, right there on your website or blog. Provide incentives or value adding information such as whitepapers or articles in order to encourage people to follow you on social media sites!

Monitor & moderate: Monitor your social media presence. Find out where your name’s coming up online and in what context it has been used. A Google alert is the simplest way to do this, though there are many free tools available online to monitor your web presence. Also stay in-control of your social media pages. Read what others are putting up on your page and respond promptly.

Syndicate your Social Media content: Content creation takes time. So why not make the most of the content you have? Post your content on all popular social media sites and don’t hesitate to re-use them. Turn a blog post into a link and put it on Facebook. Convert it into a video and add to YouTube and Facebook or turn it into a presentation and put it up on SlideShare. The aim is to get maximum exposure for your content.

What you should not do?

DON’T overtly push your products/services: Social media is a platform

where you build relationships, to create value. It’s NOT an advertising venue. Your audience

will shun you if all you talk about is the stuff you sell. Think about it, would you talk to your family

and friends about the products you sell all the time? Of course not! Then don’t treat your

social media audience any differently.

DON’T spam your contacts with pointless updates: OK, so now you added two new products to your line-up. While it’s great to share the news, don’t spam your contacts with ads. Put up a link to the new range of products; monitor who is interested and share information on a need-to-know basis.

DON’T have grammar and spelling errors in your posts: You are a small business out to create an impression. Don’t spoil it through spelling and grammatical errors. Use spelling/grammar checking tools, but never rely solely on them. Proofread your posts before putting them up online. If spelling or grammar is not your strong suit, have someone else proofread your work before it goes out

DON’T fail to respond to requests for help in your area of expertise: If you are a part of a group or forum, seize every opportunity to display your expertise. Don’t be a wallflower-actively participate in discussions.

DON’T let your profile get stale: Make sure your profile is frequently updated and that you offer something new. One mistake many small business owners make is creating social media profiles and then forgetting about them. Your social media efforts have to be on-going to bear results.

Grow Small Business With a New Customer Dynamic

Slow economic recovery is bane to grow small business.

We must look for ideas beyond the frustratingly slow recovery indicators.

The economic tide naturally rises with consumer confidence and employment indicators after a downturn. With those traditional indicators still depressed after the worst recession in 70 years where should we focus?

Understanding the new customer buying attitudes post crisis is critical to begin understanding.

Traditional economic measures miss important buying behavior shifts.

Economic trend watchers have a built-in disadvantage how to grow small business looking through a rear view mirror.

Instead, zeroing in on customer attitudes gives us a windshield view of what is going to happen. Successful owners who align their selling patterns to their target customers values have an enormous competitive advantage to grow small business.

What are Customers Thinking and Valuing Much Differently?

To grow small business further how do we both understand and anticipate customer’s needs?

Knowing what my post crisis consumer values is one of the best places to start.

Consider this illustration on the best way to grow small business.

Imagine being in a time machine taken back 50 years ago as a young and ambitious entrepreneur. Armed with only the future annual consumer attitude shifts that will grow small business in your pocket.

How would you help entrepreneurs prosper with just that single resource?

So what’s the next best thing to a time machine to grow small business in an uncertain economy? Forecasting future consumer choices is made easier if you know important changing consumer values.

Successful owners understand how to match those changing values with their target customers buying preferences.

Where Did Consumers Get Their Pre-Crisis Insiders Tip?

Consider 2006. Without any “insider” tips or presidential decrees, consumers began to quietly and sharply reduce their spending and increase their savings rates. It is as if they sensed that double-digit annual housing prices increases and gas guzzling SUV’s were no longer sustainable – or desirable.

Why Post Crisis Consumer Attitudes Made Such a Significant Shift

For 60 years the average American consumer saved about 10% of their income. Successful smaller firms still managed to thrive for decades.

However, for the next 20 years riding a sea of easy credit that fueled record consumer spending the savings rate dropped considerably. Some years, American consumers even spent more than we earned!

During 2006 it appears that most Americans somehow knew the spending party was over. Loose credit standards were no longer seen as attractive. Savings rates started to rise to their historical levels. Savvy entrepreneurs adapted and survived.

The Financial Crisis in 2008 simply accelerated that remarkable trend. Sharp cutbacks in both spending and borrowing for both households and small firms were now the norm.

Consumer Values with the Biggest Declines

Consumer surveys* about that same time showed a marked decrease in the desire for material goods and services. An important benefit of these customer attitude surveys is a much better understanding for those who want to grow small business. Knowing the relationship between values, brand preferences and purchase decision-making by the end consumer is vital for owners to have.

Think of this impact on those firms who stay stuck in the past! Look at this dramatic shift toward lifestyle simplicity:

  • Status driven values (snobbishness, exclusivity)
  • Arrogant
  • Sensuous
  • Daring

The New Consumer Values with Sharp Increases

How would customers help to grow more small firms connecting with these higher felt values?

  • Kindness and empathy
  • Friendly
  • High quality
  • Socially responsible
  • Self reliance
  • Adaptability
  • Community

Want to grow small business fast? Companies with these sets of brand values were three times more preferred than other companies offering similar products and services!*

How to Get a Small Business Loan

Need some funds to expand or start a small business? If yes, then you are at the right place, because in this article we are going to talk about how to get a small business loan. Following are some very useful tips that will be helpful to you in getting a loan.

Choosing the Type of Loan

If you want to get the loan then it is very important to take a close look at the different types of loans available. Today there are many types of small business loans available and you have to choose one that will perfectly meet your personal needs. Nowadays, government loans are the most popular type of loans for small businesses because these kinds of funds are comparatively easy to get. These kinds of loans are especially good for people who have served in the military and other government employees.

Another type of loan is the fast business loan. Usually these kinds of credits or loans are acquired through more expensive means. The fast business loans are suitable for people who want to get a small amount for a short period of time. They are also known as payday loans and most of these fast lenders will not even need any kind of credit check.

Woman small business funds are generally available through various private groups or organizations. In order to find these groups you have to search on the Internet or visit your local public library.

The Documentation of Your Loan

After choosing the right kind of loan, now is the time to prepare documentation. When it comes to documentation, it is essential to know that your personal credit history will be relevant to your small business loans statement, especially if your small business does not have a long operating history. Bring your credit history with you to the bank or group from where you want to get your loan. With the help of this history they will make assumptions about how you operate your business.

You also have to show a financial statement in order to prove the financial health of your business. Specifically, banks want to know how much money you are moving in and out of your business. If want to get the loan without any issues, then you should prepare a detailed and precise statement.

Make sure that you have a functional and updated business plan. By preparing a comprehensive business plan you will already get your performance and financial statements prepared. Another important thing to tell about how to get a small business loan is that you must include your and your partner’s bio, your strategies, and track records in your statement.

Selecting a Bank for Getting a Loan

If your documentation is all set then you are ready to ask for the money. When it comes to getting a loan then a question always arises in our minds: “From where should we get our loan?” Start with the financial institutions with which you have had some business relations in the past. The advantage of these places is that these financial institutions already know your financial behavior and business history.

If you have not had any kind of business relationship with any financial institution in the past, then go to somebody who actually wants to do business. The best way to get information about the different financial institutions in your area is through the business section of the local newspaper. The local banks are actively looking for people who need loans for their small businesses and the process with the local banks is lot easier with multi-national financial groups.

Successful Small Businesses Can Grow Faster Using Their Customer Values

Owners who want to grow successful small businesses faster should understand what is driving the customers they want to serve.

There is a huge post crisis audience across all demographic groups that are looking for friendly, engaging and socially responsible firms to do business with.

Voting with Their Dollars

Consider nearly 67% of one survey respondents* who felt they could influence corporate behavior through what they purchased. Trends like these should be a real wake up alarm to owners committed to keep their successful small businesses thriving in a slow growth economy.

A surprising majority of consumer near this same number avoided companies whose values did not reflect their own. The central idea that entrepreneurs should not only be aware but integrate customer values with their marketing and sales approach is one of the top ideas to pursue.

It is very clear from the consumer attitude surveys that post crisis customers want to engage more actively beyond the transaction level.

How many more successful small businesses would flourish if they could tap more into this cause related marketing approach?

Do Your Own Quick Observation

Do an easy confirming test of the most successful small businesses near you. Can you identify the highest consumer values they are emphasizing through their marketing, customer service and community involvement practices?

The widely recognized Fortune Best Places to Work list has inspired similar locally sponsored surveys from area chamber groups who want to help grow small business. Study your city’s survey results about the top small firms.

What values come through?

I find that employee involvement and success sharing dominate the survey results.

In fact, many of these successful small businesses share the same core values that more post-crisis consumers now embrace (kindness, respect, empathy, community involvement, etc.)

Imagine what the impact would be in our communities if more owners knew just how close they already are to connecting with an entirely new set of potential customers!

Try another very revealing observation. Contrast the competitors who do not make these most admired lists. What do you observe is missing? In my experience they generally focus on a transactional relationship with their customers and do not venture beyond it.

Your Values Checklist

For those wanting to make progress try this simple checklist with your staff:

1) What is my company brand really about? Who do we make a difference with?

Tip: What is the highest emotional connection you bring to your customers?

2) If I had to distill our company values down to the top three what would those be?

3) What is a related need by the wider community we serve that is

urgent and compelling?

4) What is an existing non-profit that is already trying to meet that need?

5) As the business owner, what is something that is hurting in our

community I am personally passionate about?

Tip: Be sure your cause is both genuine and long-term.

6) How does the cause relate in a direct way to our primary product or service?

Tip: Public relations synergy done right is a win/win for successful small businesses!

7) What are simple ways we could integrate the support of a

community cause in our everyday communications and promotions to our customers?

Mastering how to do a good transaction well is a foundation to survive. However, to really thrive in a slow economy is an entirely different approach.

Successful small businesses are those who pay close attention to the values their customers share the strongest and simply mirror that in all their customer centered practices.

Small Business Success, Management and Tips

Your curiosity must be beyond this area if we talk specifically about better success in business and within very short duration. There are always been things in this fast changing technical world where things go accessed within a fraction of second.

The key of successful small business is within business itself. How you manage and make it resource friendly. We always seen that the better optimization on available resources always lets you succeed as you got them at right place.

We have been in this niche from the past couple of years and have completely understood this business niche along with promised IT support services.

As far as business resource are concerned, you should have better infrastructure, troubleshooter to test your in-house services, better brand building and of course one and the far most essential your business communication systems.

Small businesses who are planning to migrate their services and heading up for a relocation, employee management is a must. Your management should deliver them with best business phone systems so that communication could not be a barrier in small business success. Small Business can really make an impact to their customers if business performs better and as expected by them.

If you need to get success in your small business with optimal resources, use best business phone systems offered by any trusted phone company.

You should always go ahead with better on-line presence with a result oriented provider. If you are serving locally, you can try to go for a paid results over search engine but it depends on the nature of service you are dealing with.

Your website should also be hosted on a most trusted Web Hosting service provider that can keep you running for almost 99.99% of time. If you are small business and looking for a website administrator, hire the most trusted partner who is experienced enough in IT Support Services.

Also, you better know if you are asking for any SEO company, make sure your domain is search engine keywords friendly and relevant to the industry you are dealing with as this always matter for how long you keep your domain register with and for what duration. Search engine always give bonus to older domain names as they have inherent reliability. You could also go ahead for better communication systems and can improve your internal communication media like Online Fax Services as it provide you loads of business flexibilities in terms of security, single hand dependency and many more.

Many small business owners who experience they not have the technical knowledge to build a website for their business do not realize how simple it can be with trade software. As e-commerce continues to grow as a way to buy and sell goods and services on the internet, small businesses need to learn a few easy steps to online success.

The first step may be the hardest to measure-what are your customers’ needs and what can you present potential customers with a website? The answer to that question can go a long way toward creating a valuable website that builds your client base, brings in returns through online sales and enhance your brand in the marketplace.