Many people assume that every business has established an online presence through social media, but there are still many small businesses that haven’t come to understand how useful this practice can be. A recent study published by MediaBistro.com found that 67% of small business owners are not planning to spend more time using social media in 2012 than they are now. Some concerns these small businesses had were:

–        Lack of policy: All employees need to be aware of the limitations established by their employer. Is everyone allowed to post updates? What are the content requirements? How do we deal with negative comments? The questions should be clarified in a policy statement.

–        Dealing with multiple social networks at the same time: This is a part of managing social media. It can be quite overwhelming when dealing with different social networks all at once. This is why you need to determine the social networks that are most likely to reach your target audience and focus on managing these networks first.

–        A fear of information leaks: This can be prevented if the consequences of this action are clear to all employees. You can use your social media policy for this.

It’s quite logical for small businesses to have these concerns. However, these are challenges you should try to overcome because embracing social media can lead to business growth.

If you’re thinking of using social media to leverage business opportunities, you can take a look at the tips below.

  1. Valuable content creation: It’s key to offer valuable content to consumers since this is what captures their attention. Furthermore, it gives you the opportunity to outdo your competitors.
  2. Use videos: Videos are a fun way to change content format and they appeal more to consumers than text. For instance, you can publish a promotional video on Facebook or embed it in the company’s blog to generate web traffic.
  3. Monitoring: You can monitor the social media activities of your competitors and find out what they’re doing to engage customers. Maybe their approach will give you new ideas.
  4. Fan/follower appreciation: Besides thanking fans and followers, you can also ask them about their opinions and ideas for new products or campaigns. You can also show appreciation by responding to online questions and comments. Make sure you have trained those in charge of doing this to prevent public miscommunications. Special offers, such as coupons or gifts can also make customers feel appreciated.
  5. Avoid becoming spam: Respond to individual commenters on social networks. Although it’s almost impossible to reply to every single comment, try to respond to as many as you can.

Small businesses need to step up their social media game. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it does require attention and commitment. The efforts are worth the results, as they can lead to building consumer relationships and creating brand awareness.

Hopefully you find these suggestions useful and if you have any other valuable tips, please feel free to share them with us!