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The Build Up to Day One: Leverage Social Media to Enhance Your Small Business Launch

August 22nd, 2013 by

social mediaMarketing begins months before you open your business doors. Without cash flow, small business owners may feel hog-tied when it comes to getting the word out. Social media offers low cost ways to foster customer relations when starting a small business, but walking the line between social and salesy can be difficult.

The 90-Day Ramp Up

Develop a social media presence 90 days before launch. Create buzz slowly; hardcore marketing a year before launch will annoy and exhaust your audience before you’re ready to offer products. Use time leading up to opening day to nurture relationships. At this point, you’re not selling; you’re creating a trust relationship so you have the right to sell in the future. Limit talk about your business by talking about the business–link to, comment on, and ask questions about articles related to your industry. Position yourself as an expert, but keep posts entertaining and engaging.

Use the Right Platform

You don’t have time to spread yourself over every platform. Internet-marketing specialists recommend concentrating your message on two conduits. Facebook and Twitter are popular consumer-facing platforms, although Pinterest is rapidly gaining ground. If your business is heavy on the visuals, then use Facebook and Pinterest. If your services are business-to-business oriented, consider developing relationships via LinkedIn. Entrepreneurs with video resources can consider YouTube, but don’t blow your budget on a single video. Social-media marketing is about quality and quantity.

Don’t Be Social-Media Illiterate

Don’t jump in the deep end if you haven’t been swimming for a while; take time to learn how to use each platform before you start posting. Copying long descriptions into a Twitter status will confuse customers and make you look silly, because Twitter limits posts to 140 characters. You can use your word processor to check length before posting. Use TinyURL.com to truncate Internet addresses to conserve message space; shorter URLs also work on other platforms, because they make your status look more readable to people scanning the news feed.

Once you learn how to navigate social media, keep up with changes on each platform. Facebook now allows hashtags, increasing the reach of each post. Leveraging the most recent technology on a platform gives readers the impression that you’re smart, sophisticated, and in the know, all of which builds trust for your business.

Guard Your Time

Social media is powerful, but it’s also one of the biggest time wasters around. Don’t get sucked into the whirlpool; limit social media marketing to an hour each day. Divide the time into 15- or 30-minute intervals to reach the widest audience. Mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and early evening usually offer the highest exposure.

Starting a small business is an exciting adventure, so don’t be afraid to share it. Launch a social media presence that is personable and people will respond. By day one, you’ll have an audience ready to hear about and support your business.

Sarah S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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