The evolution of social media has given small business owners an enriched “tool box” to choose from. From common social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, to the new forerunners in social networking, choices abound to gain a dedicated following and visibility within your community, or world-wide. Read on to discover the top five tools to enhance any the marketing efforts of any small business.
Facebook, Twitter and Beyond
While every business may benefit from a great looking website, the professional playing field has leveled out with Facebook and Twitter being utilized as the business-class standard. Moving past the simple basics of using Facebook and Twitter, there are several new services which can enhance the user experience. Once you’ve implemented Twitter into your business networking, Timely can analyze your previous Twitter status updates and determine what times of day your “followers” are most likely to read your posts. This free service allows you to schedule them to be posted at those times. Polly is another free social media platform that monitors Twitter around the clock in search of what a business’s customers are saying about it. The service then suggests a response for you to approve whenever it finds such chatter, or you can set it to directly respond to customers on your behalf.
Your Social Media Dashboard
Used as an extension of twitter, Hootsuite and Twitter are social media platforms that provide a single dashboard for multiple social-media profiles. Users can schedule updates in advance, saving time while alerting your followers about any new events, specials, or information about your business. Even with the free version, Hootsuite supports up to five Twitter accounts, and maintains the capacity to provide analytics and statistics which can further your small business marketing strategies. This dashboard allows the small business owner to discover which status updates had the best performance levels, so you can gauge the effect of any particular message you’ve sent out. Other strong social media dashboards with analytics tools include Sprout Social and Unilyzer.
Plug-ins, Widgets, and Websites
If you’ve ever seen a Facebook ‘Like’ button, or ‘Connect on Twitter’ bar on a Website and clicked to share the page or information with your friends, you can imagine the value of these small-yet-powerful Website add-on’s. Many small business owners choose to maintain their own Web sites; others opt for a dedicated Webmaster who will attend to the daily maintenance and updates. Plug-ins and Widgets – or someone who can write and implement HTML code to create the same type of buttons – are important for your Website in that the small icons allow your Web customers word-of-mouth advertising has grown infinitely through social media platforms and your small business can harness these tools by inserting them into your business Website.
Google+: New Kid on the Block
Similar, yet refreshingly different than Facebook — that’s the description of Google+. Launched for limited beta-testing in 2011, Google+ set out to overtake the Facebook revolution and gained more than 20 million users within its first three weeks. Google+ allows users to group their friends, relatives, colleagues and customers into “Circles,” effectively redefining the way individuals and small businesses use social networking platforms. Taking social media to the next level, Google+ encompasses real-time chat, instant video and photo uploads, as well as many of the popular tools utilized by millions of Google users world-wide.
Utilizing Web 2.0 to market your small business isn’t just an important part of managing your enterprises: it’s a necessity. Knowing which social media tools will help make the most of your time and efforts is an effective way to grow your virtual listening audience, as well as outsmart your competition.
More from this contributor:
Google+ and Your Small Business
Small Business Marketing On The Cheap
Small Business Marketing: Four Wallet-Wise Strategies