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How can social media help your small business?

Social media is now the ‘go to’ place for the majority of teenagers and adults, whatever their age

Do you think that social media is only for teenagers chatting or friends sharing their holiday snaps? If so, think again. If you own or run a small business and it is not using social media, you are missing out, and missing out big time.

Social media is now the ‘go to’ place for the majority of teenagers and adults, whatever their age. You need to have at least some presence on as much of it as possible if you are going to reach a large number of people.

Whether friendly Facebook, tetchy Twitter or instant Instagram (other social media platforms are available), your existing clients and thousands of potential customers will already be on there, waiting for you to connect with them.

The bad thing about social media – actually, there are lots, but let’s focus on one – is that you need to do your research to find out where your customers are going to be before you start. You need to know your target audience and then target them accordingly.

The good thing about social media – again there are many, but we will look at the main one for the purposes of small business marketing – is that there is so much information readily available to you about its literally millions of users.

You may have to pay to get the information you need, but knowing people’s ages, marital status, gender, locations and – crucially – interests can be invaluable to you when you are developing your marketing strategy.

Sometimes this can be as easy as pie. Facebook, for instance, will allow you to send adverts to thousands of people who meet your precise specifications, and at a reasonable price.

As an example, let’s say that you own a bookshop in Hull. You know people will not come very far to visit your shop, so it is pointless advertising to everyone in the country. The beauty of something such as Facebook is that it will allow you to send your adverts not only people living within a 10-mile radius of your store but also to specify that they have already expressed an interest in books or reading.

Your ads will not be wasted on someone who has no interest in what you are selling and you can send anyone responding to your advert directly to your website, where they can learn more, or even to a discount offer to tempt them into acting on their interest.

Even if you cannot afford to advertise, you should try to use the main social media platforms daily, posting interesting and engaging content and photographs – preferably relevant to your business – that will draw your customers to you. You really can’t afford not to.

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