Social media is important to small business. Whether you choose to engage now or not, it’s important to save your real estate online by making sure your business name is reserved. So get a Twitter, Facebook and YouTube account whether you use or not.
As any small business owner will tell you, [wiki]word of mouth[/wiki] is the most important kind of advertising.
On Facebook, every person has an average of 130 to 170 friends (Twitter doesn’t release numbers, but we’ll talk about Twitter in a moment). By encouraging people to “friend” or “fan” (that is, “like”) your business, those people will see that positive notation.
Then perhaps one or two of their friends will stop by your business. And so on. And so on. This is called the “Snowball Effect” and can have a huge impact on your business over time.
While Twitter lacks quite the same social aspects, the microblogging tool is more closely tied to geography and some tools truly bear this out — GeoChirp.com, TwitterVision.com and SpotJots.com to name a few. The challenge? You need to watch the tweets to see what’s going on nearby.
Let’s say you’re a local sandwich shop. It might be easy to employ a local high schooler to sit around meal-times to watch for someone to tweet “I’m hungry” or something similar. Then you can tweet back, “Come by the Snack Shack at 1234 Main St for a free delicious cupcake with Tweet Code Kelly05.”
Then there’s FourSquare and Facebook Places. So encourage people to check in once they’re there for a free dessert the next time they stop in. This will encourage repeat business — again, something small businesses thrive upon.
Again, social media is today’s word of mouth. You just need to encourage your patrons to use it to your advantage.