Tue09302014

Business & Real Estate

Five tips for small businesses

More than 600 million people are on Facebook, including at least 150 million Americans, or one in two adults. Twitter recently topped 300 million accounts. Small-business owners are trying to capitalize on social media to promote their businesses and broadcast messages.

According to Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media and author of “Likeable Social Media,” the secret to social-media success for business owners is to craft a strategy that allows them to be the sort of person at a cocktail party who listens attentively, tells great stories, shows interest in others and is authentic and honest – simply being likeable.

Kerpen offers the following five tips for small-business owners venturing into social-media networking.

•Â Listen before talking. Before tweeting, search Twitter for people discussing your business and talking about the competitors. Search the site using words prospective customers would use. For example, if the business offers accounting services, search for “need an accountant” in your town.

•Â Don’t tell customers to “Like” and “Follow” you – tell them why and how. “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter” are everywhere. Huh? Why? How? Give customers a reason to connect with the business on social networks. What’s in it for them? And then make it easy to connect.

•Â Ask questions. Wondering why nobody’s responding to Facebook posts? It’s probably because a business owner hasn’t asked questions. Social media are about engagement and having a conversation, not promoting. If a pizza place posts “Come on by, two pizzas for just $12,” no one will comment or show up. But if that pizza place posts, “What’s your favorite topping?” people will comment online – and are more likely to show up.

•Â Share pictures and videos. People love pictures. A huge reason for Facebook’s growth to 600 million users in six years is photos. Visual images tell stories about a business in ways text cannot. No production budget is needed. Use a smart phone for pictures and short videos of customers, staff and cool things at the business – upload them directly to Facebook and Twitter. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

•Â Spend at least 30 minutes each day on social media. If merchants buy a newspaper or radio ad, they wouldn’t spend a mere five minutes composing it or relegate it to interns. There’s much to learn as new tools and opportunities across social networks emerge. Read, learn, listen and respond – join the conversation.

Above all, Kerpen said, put yourself in the customer’s place – if you were a customer, would you click a “Like,” “Follow” or “Retweet” button on your own business’s Facebook or Twitter page?

For more information, visit Twitter.com/Dave Kerpen or Facebook.com/DaveKerpen.

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