Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. In the last few years, these platforms have become ubiquitous in daily life, often the first and last thing people look at each day.
But only 53% of small business owners now actively use social media as a growth strategy for their businesses, according to a 2015 survey by Clutch, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that connects its clients with professional services firms.
Here are three strategies to focus on when moving your business into the social media arena.
Meet your clients where they are
Photograph: Keith Kochner
At Live Streaming Fitness, a Tulsa, Okla.-based firm that live-streams fitness workouts around the clock, Keith Kochner, co-founder and CEO, knew that social media would be the best place to connect with his audience. But which platform? To choose the right platform he did informal research, asking fitness enthusiasts in his network where they turn for new information. One site kept coming up: Pinterest.
It made sense. “In fitness, people are very picture-oriented,” he says. “They like the beautiful long road, or pictures of fresh food and prepared meals. They post workouts they think work for them: 20 push-ups a day, 20 pull-ups.” Kochner’s team began posting daily inspirational pictures with affirmations, such as “Strive for progression, not perfection” on an image of a woman working out.
Reaching out to customers using Pinterest is helping Live Streaming Fitness build an audience, he says. “We use it to develop conversations,” he says, between his customers and 15 employees. “Social media can help you build momentum.”
Photograph: Gail Young
Gail Young, a co-founder and the HR director at Guardian Pharmacy, an Atlanta-based company that serves institutions such as long-term-care facilities, has found that connecting with followers in relevant discussion groups—on topics such as workplace benefits—has helped her build a pipeline for potential employees. “I try to be a member of as many groups as I can that will keep me connected with people who have very strong talent in areas I’m looking for,” she says. When she has a job to fill, she finds success posting it from her personal LinkedIn profile.
Within seven days of a recent job post she says she received close to 50 résumés. Ten of the candidates matched what she was seeking in her carefully crafted post. The power of social media, she says, makes hiring easier, and moving fast is crucial to a small business like hers that is growing quickly: from one pharmacy in 2004 to 24 pharmacies in 2015.
Build a personal connection
Photograph: Anisa Telwar Kaicker
At Anisa International, founder Anisa Telwar Kaicker has found that Facebook is where key players in her industry hang out. The Atlanta-based designer and manufacturer of private label cosmetic brushes and applicators stays connected with her company’s Facebook page to share product launches and other updates. She uses her personal page to post information about her charitable activities and life outside of work with her husband, Arjun, and their dog. When Telwar meets new clients, she will immediately friend them on Facebook, from both accounts, so they get a holistic glimpse of who she is. “They see who I am and can start to build trust and connection,” she says.
Telwar says the connection can also extend beyond her. When she recently attended a business dinner in California she surprised her guests by inviting her husband to join them later. When she mentioned that he’d be coming, says Telwar, everyone was excited even though they had never met Arjun. “Everyone at the dinner said, ‘We love Arjun. Arjun is fantastic.’” The news helped set the tone for a lively meeting. “I love having that connection,” she says.
Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network communications, believes there’s nothing small about small business. In a rapidly evolving and increasingly connected environment, having the right solutions and services can be a critical driver of SMB growth and success. Our fiber-backed network provides the speed and reliability to accommodate businesses utilizing social media and e-commerce.
For more information on Windstream services for small business, visit smallbusiness.windstream.com.