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Social media is a two-way street which adds to its benefits for small business.
Sure, it's great for advertising and attracting new customers. But it's also a social experience, meaning interactive. Not only can you get a message to your customers, they can send one back to you.
But we all know that talk is cheap. How can you reap the benefits of all that interaction?
One good way is to encourage customers to contribute content about your business to your Facebook or Yelp page. Having a client's perspective gives a more well-rounded view of your business to potential new customers.
It also engages your client-base when they're no longer at your office or storefront.
Out of sight can mean out of mind. Encouraging your clientele to keep the conversation going online means you aren't forgotten.
There's another benefit to having an active online community around your business. You won't be tempted to do anything that breaks the law.
It may seem innocent enough but padding your own social media presence with reviews that you post youself can lead to a lawsuit.
Most small businesses are familiar with the general rules on false advertising but those laws also apply to self-written reviews. Several companies have lost lawsuits where consumers claim the reviews were misleading and violate fair advertising laws.
Instead, use social media as a more positive way to 'take advantage' of your customers. Listen to their feedback about your business, how they feel about new promotions or changes, and what they think is missing.
That spontaneous communication will allow you to improve your business more quickly and easily than any marketing survey.
Social media is a way to build community around your business, not just another method for advertising. Spend time connecting with your customers and you'll reap the benefits all year long.