This week we have been looking at social media for small businesses. Ways in which they can use the social media tools that exist to build their brand, engage their customers and learn about their brand, market and competitors. It is as important for small businesses as it is for large brands to build a social media strategy. And there are many different ways that you can start to use social media to get these benefits.

And social media strategy should be based on what your brand is looking to achieve. Only when you have established this should you start to experiment with different social media tools and will you be able to measure the success of what you are doing. This need not be an expensive and elaborate implementation, some great tools exist for small businesses to use to help achieve their aims with social media and this week we looked at four of them:

  1. Social media monitoring and buzz tracking: Any social media strategy should start with a thorough process of social media monitoring. Listening to what is being said about your brand, competitors, market and customers. There are a range of free buzz tracking tools available and setting up some simple monitoring tools is something that any small business should do.
  2. Twitter and targeting customers: Twitter is a very flexible tool. Some people think that it is most useful when you are following and being followed by very large numbers of people. But this is not always true and it can be particularly powerful with small groups. You can build a small community of people online who are interested in the same issues and use this to engage customers or potential customers. Better to target and engage a smaller group of people than to try to appeal to everybody.
  3. Blogging and brand building: Blogging is a great tool that any and every brand should consider. For many small businesses, blogs are a tool that can help them punch above their weight. The content, themes and information that they share can lead them to be thought of as much larger or much more established than they really are. Blogging provides an easy way for organisations to share their thoughts and their content. And people will respect you for this.
  4. Foursquare and customer engagement: Foursquare is just one of a number of mobile-enabled and geo-location social media tools that are being developed. They allow people to connect and share information based on where they are. Foursquare in particular offers great and exciting opportunities to brands. You can find out who is visiting your shop, store, cafe or building and then work out ways to engage them and turn them into loyal customers

These are just four ways in which small businesses can use social media tools as part of a social media strategy. They are all free tools to start using and the posts linked to above contain more details about each of them. Using and experimenting with social media tools need not cost money. The important stages are in the thinking and planning about what you are looking to achieve and so which tools are most appropriate, and then in how you manage and grow your activity in any tool you choice.

Small businesses can benefit hugely from a social media strategy. Plan what you are looking to achieve and how you will measure success, and then experiment!

You can read all our posts on social media for small businesses here

Image by uncle_fungus via Flickr

Original Post: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2010/02/social-media-strategy-for-small-businesses/

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