By BELLA HEILNER
To figure out how to put social media to work for your business, first figure out what you want to gain.
“What are your goals?” asked Catrina Ossmann, owner of Clever Ideas Marketing. “Is it to get people into a storefront? Is it to have people visit a website? Focus your efforts on where your target audience is.”
Ossmann spoke last week at a program sponsored by the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce and Stair District Library. She focused on the key points of social media for small business owners.
Ossmann first spoke about business updates that are shared online. They should sound like you do in real life, but a professional tone should still be carried throughout your presence on social media.
She told the audience to “be the expert.” When someone thinks of the industry, you want them to think of you.
Business owners should keep in mind that what is placed online could be the first impression their business has on someone.
“So if they see something that hasn't been updated in a long time they might go on to your competitor’s, someone else who is more updated.”
There is no set number of posts that should be put out, but regardless of the platform or site, your page should be up to date with current business hours, contact information, etc.
“You can spend all day playing on social media, and you can have a page on every single website out there, but if it’s not going to benefit your business and that’s not where your audience is, don’t waste your time,” Ossmann said.
It is vital that you know who your target audience is and the best way to reach out to them.
Facebook users can create a page for any kind of business and they can gain a better understanding of their target audience through the “Insights” option. This shows the location, age group and gender of those visiting your page.
If you’re willing to pay for advertising there are a few routes you can take. You can “boost” a post to get more “likes” or to promote your Facebook page.
“Or you can drive traffic to your website,” Ossmann said. “So you’re essentially putting an ad on Facebook so when people click on it, it takes them off of Facebook, to your website.”
Be social, she said. Interact with your following, reply to messages and comments on your page. Join in on community events. Share original and relevant content. It’s recommended to post an update for your followers at least once a week on Facebook.
Instagram is a photo and video sharing social media platform that is mainly used through its mobile app although it can be accessed on a computer. Instagram is owned by Facebook so your ads can be linked to Instagram. But social media is forever changing, Ossmann said, and new options may become available at any time.
All posts should include hashtags—the keywords someone would use to search for a desired photo or video. Say you’re a photographer and you’re looking to post pictures you had taken at a park in Michigan. You could use the hashtags #photography #nature #puremichigan and so forth.
A minor downfall of Instagram is that there is only one place where a link to your website can be shared and that is in your “bio,” where you give a short description of yourself/business.
Twitter is another social media tool that is most well known as an app, but can be viewed on a computer as well. Twitter also allows you to send messages and to share photos and videos. Any post you make is limited to 140 characters and can be categorized using hashtags.
If you’re looking to target millennials, Ossmann said, then this is a good way to go. It’s a fast updating site that would be considered higher-upkeep and require more frequent updates.
One local business owner learned that Twitter was best for his company because he ships to various locations across the country.
LinkedIn is website oriented towards business owners and is seen as being more professional than some of the other options.
Users connect with potential customers/clients as well as other professionals in the industry. If someone is happy with the service you’ve given, they can endorse you or write a recommendation on your page, showing others visiting your page that you have a good record.
Ossmann spoke about LinkedIn settings adjustments to prevent being overwhelmed by e-mail.
“Spend your time wisely because social media is not free. It takes a lot of time to keep these things updated,” Ossmann concluded.
But at the end of the day, she added, if you use social media correctly it can make a big impact on you and your business.