Small business owners have it rough enough without the added challenges that come with navigating the marketing landscape; especially new startups. Finding ways to distinguish yourself from the competition can be difficult. Let’s face it, when starting a business from scratch, a marketing budget isn’t generally at the top of the priority list.
There are ways to navigate around these resource constraints, even while in the building stages of your business. The quickest and lowest cost method is with the use of social media. Why this route? You can rapidly build brand recognition and trust, clear and simple. If done correctly, social media can be an effective and efficient method of reaching your short-term marketing goals with minimal investment.
The Value Proposition
A well designed social media campaign builds trust between your company and your followers. Note, not all followers are customers but you do desire that all customers become followers. However, don’t discount the influence of those who follow your brand, even if they aren’t your direct customer.
How can you achieve such a following? The most effective and widely taught method today is to provide added value to those followers and ask nothing in return. Why is this important? Well, the short answer is people can see through the B.S. If your goal is to make the quick sale with no intention of building a relationship or interacting with your audience again, people will know!
If your intent is to share educating, relevant and entertaining content through the use of blogs, videos, podcasts and other free services or content; you will quickly demonstrate, authority, transparency and honesty. Your followers will feel engaged and valued.
Transparency Trumps Flash
Actions always speak louder than words. This is no less true when dealing with social media. Your audience will judge you and your business based on the content you share. Additionally, you will also be judged on how you respond to those engaging your content. Regardless if you are a multi-million dollar corporation or a startup working from your garage, you will be identified by what you publish.
here, make a commitment to transparent and honest behavior through social media. It can make or break your company’s reputation in today’s environment. A straightforward approach with clear positive language is best, especially if responding to negative engagement. Yes, there will be those moments when you can’t please the customer or follower.
Don’t Be Static - Interact
The very interactive nature of social media today is one of its greatest strengths. Have you ever begun to follow a business to learn more about them and their service only to discover continual posting of content that was void of any real value? Followers not only want to see valuable content relative to your product or service; they want to interact and thus learn more about your company’s values.
Take advantage of these moments to engage with your audience and make a lasting connection. After all, building a reputable brand is all about establishing a relationship. According to Sammy Blindell, “it’s not just about ‘closing the sale’ and hoping the customer will return for future purchases. It is, in fact, about establishing deep emotional connections between the brand and the customer, as well as developing a healthy codependence.” This isn’t just a good idea, it’s expected.
Real Engagement - Real Impact
For many of us, social media marketing is still loosely categorized as non-traditional marketing. The former traditional marketing tactics that were specifically designed to push products or services, are much less effective for building trust and positive brand awareness.
Due to these unorthodox tactics with social marketing, startup owners may not feel as if their efforts are paying off with immediate direct sales. However, you need to understand, this process builds your company’s following as it gains brand awareness and presence in the social media space. It has often been said in recent years, the internet is a place, not a thing. Your social presence in that “place” can determine success or failure.
That’s My Final Answer
As previously mentioned, social media is a powerful tool for differentiating your business from your competition. It’s a great place to showcase what your company and its brand is all about. You have an opportunity to build a strong reputation from the ground up, establish industry expertise and grow your audience. For a startup and young emerging business, there is no better low-cost resource for reaching your perspective market base than that of social media.