Traditional marketing can be a drain on your funds. Social media marketing, on the other hand, is pretty low-cost and gives you a direct line to current and prospective customers. As a startup and small business owner, you have much to accomplish with very limited resources. So you have to be strategic and efficient with the resources you do have to achieve the results you need.

“Your social media campaign is like a house. The foundation and the base is your website or other place where you convert visitors. Each channel has its own theme, feel, culture, and rules,” said Kerry Rego, Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center social media business adviser and trainer.

“Every time you want to share a piece of content, you’ll need to know which ‘room’ of your house it belongs in. Many people think it’s all about gaining likes or followers on social media. It’s not. It’s about what affects your bottom line.”

To effectively use social media, you’ll need to learn how to establish and build your business presence. Here are a few steps to follow:

— Do Your Research—Behind every exceptional social media campaign is a great strategy. Social media is all about connecting with your audience. You have to intimately understand your current and potential customers. Begin by defining your audience and message. Also, find out which social networks your customers frequent.

— Coordinate Your Social Platforms – Not all social media platforms are created equal. Each one has a different focus and audience. The social media platforms you choose should work together to help you achieve your goals. Your website is your brand’s home base. You want to coordinate your social media efforts to push people to your website where they can buy your product(s) or service. Start a blog to share information. When your audience can see what you’re sharing, they may be more likely to follow you.

— Start Small – Once you have defined your audience and know where to reach them, it’s time to be social. Social media takes time and energy, which, as a business owner, are precious resources. Start with a manageable amount, maybe one or two platforms. You’ll need to be consistent, so incorporate social media into your daily routine. Block out time on your calendar and dedicate the time to managing your social media channels.

— Monitor and Share – Monitor what people are saying about your product or service. Conversations are happening on all social media platforms. It’s important to become a part of these conversations. Respond to comments and provide feedback even if the comments are negative. It’s an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

Which social media platform to choose? You can start with Facebook. On Tuesday, June 9, from 9 a.m. to noon, Napa Valley College’s Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center is offering a Hands-on Facebook for Business I (beginners level).

A more advanced level Hands-on Facebook for Business II is on Tuesday, June 16 from 9 a.m. to noon. Both workshops are located at Napa Valley College in Building 3300. For more information or to register for the workshop, go to napasonomasbdc.org or call (707) 256-7250.

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or mcervantes@napavalley.edu.

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