Social Media for Small Business: What Works? (Guest Blog)

Everyone will tell you that you must use social media to promote your small business and in turn attract new customers who will buy the goods that you supply or sign up for the services that you provide. There is merit in this argument as there are currently over 1 billion active users of Facebook and over 500 million people have signed up for Twitter accounts with 135,000 new users signing up everyday. The statistics sound great and it is easy to see that there is a huge online market out there waiting to be tapped into but the single most important question for me has always been how do I actually find new customers for my business and which social media platform works best?

I have read many articles which suggest that all small business owners should hold accounts with each of the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These articles recommend that you should post useful information to each of these accounts on a daily basis to help keep your audience engaged and tuned in to your brand. However from experience I do not believe that this is the best approach to adopt and what I call the “scattergun” approach can be very time consuming and is likely to yield very little in terms of new customers or clients for your business.

I started my online business from scratch and the only promotion technique I use is promotion via social media. Like most other small business owners I began with the scattergun approach and attempted to publicise my services to as many people as possible but I soon began to realise that all of this effort was producing very few new customers and I was considering giving up. I persisted and by luck I stumbled upon an approach which is very simple and not at all time consuming and best of all actually works when attempting to attract large numbers of new customers. So what is my approach I hear you asking!

I do not use Facebook and I do not use LinkedIn. I have used both of these websites for business promotion purposes but I consider both sites a waste of time. By all means continue to use both sites for your personal enjoyment but when it comes to business there is only one social media platform that really delivers the results you and your business can thrive from. The key to my success and the one platform that I use and recommend you use is Twitter. Twitter has provided me with a very significant number of customers and is the single most important element of my business promotion efforts and has contributed towards my business growth and profitability above anything else.

There is a specific technique that I use to attract new customers on Twitter and I will conclude this article by explaining my approach and what works so well for me. My strategy is to follow as many small business users as possible in an attempt to gain a reciprocal follow from these users. This increases my follower count and my perceived popularity and also allows me to engage with my target market for the services I provide. I actively seek business community hashtags (#) and include my favourite hashtag after the majority of my tweets. A particular hashtag which has yielded excellent results is #bizitalk. I also re-tweet the tweets of the #bizitalk community and in turn I more often than not receive a re-tweet from the community in return which extends my reach to other Twitter users.

I now have more than 11,000 followers and I simply maintain my account by tweeting daily business news articles every weekday morning. I don’t put in much effort to engage directly with other Twitter users and I don’t tweet about what I had for breakfast. My strategy here is to simply post tweets that link to business articles which people may find interesting and most importantly of all I ensure that I am seen within the news feed of all of those who follow me. This is the way in which I ensure my follows keep seeing my business and my brand and ensure that they contact me when they need my services. I now spend five or ten minutes a day promoting my business on Twitter as I’ve explained above and the customers keep on rolling in.

About the Author
Emma Simpson is the owner of a firm of Cheap Accountants who have gained a reputation across the UK for providing quality yet affordable accountancy services to small businesses.