More and more small businesses are becoming social media butterflies, trying to grow their business by flitting from one social media platform to another. Flittering from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Google+ to the next big social media platform may actually stymie business growth.
Stillwater social media trainer and networking guru Sherry Roden said many small business owners and managers don't understand the time commitment required to build and grow interest in their business.
Roden is an adjunct instructor at Meridian Technology Center. She teaches social media to high school and adult students, Meridian Tech spokeswoman Cara Adney said. Roden has taught students to use various social media platforms, including Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and Pinterest.
"It is called social media for a reason," Roden said. "We like to be recognized and know that someone is listening. Engagement is key to growing a following that not only interacts with you online, but shares your information via word of mouth," Roden said.
It takes a time and staff commitment to interact with social media followers, she said, adding most social-media platforms reward interaction by showing posts that show follower interaction more often than posts without follower engagement.
"For example", she said, "on Facebook a status update that has several likes and comments will get seen by more fans than one that has none."
Social media followers expect quick responses to their comments and questions as well, she said.
"If they ask a question via social media, they expect you to respond much faster than email," she said.
An editorial plan, which describes the type of content you will post and the frequency of posts, is vital to attracting a social media audience, she said.
"Consistency is the key to growing your followers/fans," she said. "Posting great content that resonates with your target market plays a role as well."
An article in the October issue of the Journal for Marketing Research indicates social media and traditional media, like newspapers, can complement each other to improve sales.
Authors Andre T. Stephen of the University of Pittsburgh, and Jeff Galak of Carnegie Mellon University, found traditional media generated more additional sales from new costumers and additional sales from repeat customers than social media platforms.
The authors said traditional media typically has a much broader reach than social media.
The study also found social media can help drive a traditional media marketing campaign, the authors said.
"Cross promotion also plays a role in growing your following," Roden said. Customers and potential customers need to know which social media platforms are being used, she said.
"If you use newspaper ads, they should always have the logos of the social media platforms you are on within the ad," she said.
She also recommends business cards and other printed materials include social media logos and website information.
"It's important to share why someone should connect with you on social media," she said. "Am I going to be the first to know about great deals? Will I get a sneak peak at new merchandise? Are you going to teach me something? The No. 1 reason people connect with a business on social media is to receive discounts," she said.
Contests on social media platforms are another way to build an audience, Roden said.
Several businesses in Stillwater are giving away iPads in social media contests. The Stillwater NewsPress is giving one away to people who like the newspaper on its Facebook page. People can enter the contest by clicking the button on our homepage -- stwnewspress.com.
The contest's prize should be related to the business, Roden said.
"If you own a furniture business and give away an iPad you are going to attract a lot of new fans but they really have no interest in who you are and what you have to offer. They just want to win the iPad," she said.
She said she wants businesses to offer prizes that can be purchased at their store. This increases the visibility of their products and attracts people who like their merchandise.
"Part of the appeal of social media is that it is fun. When you use fun techniques like contests to market your business you get away with talking about your business more but your fans don't feel like they are being told to," she said.
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