Social Media and Your Small Business
Social Media is a continually changing environment of websites that see people interact with each other, whether it be with friends, colleagues, fans, or strangers. Of these, probably the most popular are Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the countless number of blogs. Whether you are in Surrey or Vancouver BC, elsewhere within the Country, or across this wide world, Social Media has brought people together - for good and bad.
Social Media is not for everyone. Cityline Websites does not recommend social media to all their clients. It is recommended for those who have either the time to commit, or budget to have someone else contribute. Cityline Websites will help you leverage your website to include any, some, or all of these sources of potential clients. Which ones we recommend depends on the business, the budget, and most importantly the committment by the client to make Social Media work.
Facebook is the most used Social Media website and is growing at an amazing rate. It is estimated that 50% of the adult population in North America now have a Facebook account. Facebook allows members to connect with friends, contributing as much or as little information on their lives, from photos, activities, and more. Your information is protected - you have to "accept" someone before they have access to any of your information.
Facebook has a business component called "pages". Businesses create Facebook pages, which are in the public domain. With a Facebook company page, businesses create communities of people. People sign up as "liking" your page. Any information you post, will be sent to their Facebook account. A Facebook page is an excellent way to build up repeat customers by providing good information on the business or events, coupons, contests and more.
When you post information to your Facebook page, all those signed up on your page, will get your post (onto their "Wall" or "home page"). If you have 100 people liking your Page, and each of these people have 100, then you have the capability of reaching as many as 100 x 100 = 10,000 people.
Another Advantage of people liking your company on Facebook is that more and more, Google and other companies are integrating information from this into review sites and even the Yellow Pages. People liking your Facebook page can act as a referral for your business.
Twitter is of similar popularity to Facebook, however is significantly different in how it works for businesses. Twitter is less personal than Facebook (clients don't include photos and personal information). Business accounts are again public, but for personal accounts, the default is to have the account public as well. You can see what others have to say, by "following" them. When writing something on Twitter, you have 145 characters to say what you have to say (Tweet). You can link to pages / articles / other accounts, etc, but all within the 145 character limit.
Twitter has several advantages over Facebook. Twitter is immediate. If you are selling cowboy boots and mention something on Twitter, then anyone in the World doing a search for Cowboy Boots at that moment will see your ad. Many will follow you. As a company, you can tweet to show you know about your topic by reporting on articles, giving advice, and being active on Twitter. You may not know it, but there could be people out there in high places monitoring what you say, and willing to bring you significant contracts.
Google is looking for Video for help placing companies in the rankings. More often, individuals are using videos in place of reading text. You Tube (which is owned by Google) is the premier video sharing website. If you as a business owner can create a video, or have Cityline Websites help create a video for you, then it would be a great compliment to a Search Engine Optimized Website. You Tube would be the first logical place to upload the video, with accompanying description, but also there are other video sharing sites. In addition, this video could be embedded in your site, which is good for SEO.
A You Tube Channel is a designated area for all your You Tube videos. A user could go to your channel and see everything you have uploaded. (eg visit Golf Group Manager You Tube Channel)
LinkedIn is a social media site, primarily for professionals. With LinkedIn, you can "connect" with friends and previous colleagues. Information for LinkedIn generally revolves around business and education. Likely in an effort to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn has recently allowed for companies to post information on LinkedIn. For professional type businesses, this is likely worth the minimal time and effort to sign up. In addition, LinkedIn has advertising services which can be used, given the right business type.