8 Social Media Tools That Your Small Business Needs to be Using

If you own a small business and you haven’t embraced social media yet, you need to get started now. The world of social media feels like it is in a constant state of change but there are some important social media tools that your small business needs to be using now. This guide will help you get started.

With over 500 million active users, half of whom log on to the site every day, your company absolutely needs to have a presence on Facebook. Facebook has changed over the years but right now, you should get a Facebook Page set up. The process is really quite simple, especially if you already have a Facebook account. The site even has a step-by-step tutorial to create a Facebook Page for your business. I could dedicate an entire post to Facebook best practices but for now, get your page set up and start promoting it.

Connect with your customers in 140 characters or less on Twitter. With a quick one-minute tweet you can update the Twitterverse with information about your latest sales special, share exciting news about your company and even head off any customer service issues.

Believe it or not, consumers that use Twitter will often use the service as an outlet to vent their frustrations about a specific company. If you’re not on Twitter, you may never know what your customers are saying about you. For more information, read Twitter 101 for Business.

Although LinkedIn doesn’t have as many users as Facebook or Twitter, the site is home to over 80 million users from 200 different countries. LinkedIn is designed to help you manage your professional network. In addition to connecting with customers, you can build your relationship with businesses that offer complementary services to your own, find new business partners or opportunities, join discussions with others in your industry and more.

Although anyone can join LinkedIn with a basic account, the site offers three different premium subscription tiers for businesses. The paid subscriptions open up a new set of tools that can help small businesses get the most out of their LinkedIn account.

Foursquare, which was just launched in March 2009, is relatively young in the social media world but the site already had three million users as of August 2010. Foursquare is a mobile tool that allows users to locate nearby businesses, connect with friends and take advantage of special offers and discounts at participating venues.

As of August 2010, 15,000 venues were posting special offers on Foursquare. When a customer checks in at your business, he can take advantage of a special you’re offering. For example, when customers check in at the American Eagle in Minnetonka, MN, they receive a 15% discount on their purchase.

Foursquare is definitely a different type of social media tool but one that is growing in popularity. Read Foursquare + Your Business for details on how to get started.

Although you may think of YouTube as a place for moms to upload videos of their kids or cat ladies to share their pets’ latest hijinks, it is more than just a video memory book. YouTube is a great way to introduce your business to new customers. Some businesses go after the viral video approach – something catchy that has the chance to get a million clicks and end up on the national news.

Of course this is the exception not the norm so you may want to take a more realistic approach – use YouTube to add a new visual element to your site. Sometimes you can do a better job of pitching your product in video instead of text. Today’s Internet world is multi-dimensional and you need to make sure that you’re offering more to your customers than just text on a page. You can do this by embedding a YouTube video into your site. By uploading it to YouTube first, you’re exposing the video to YouTube’s massive audience while maintaining the ability to display the video on your own site.

Flickr, a photo-sharing site, is another great way to advertise your business online. Now you can’t blatantly market your business on Flickr but you can certainly utilize the site to help boost your company’s visibility. The Small Business Search Marketing website has a great post on getting started with Flickr. Number one on the list is to use your web site address as your Flickr screen name. Read the other suggestions to help guide you in launching Flickr for your business: How to Market on Flickr.

StumbleUpon is a service that provides personalized web site suggestions to its nearly 12 million users based on their individual interests and web surfing patterns. If you come across a site you like, you give it a thumbs-up and then “StumbleUpon” another site. As a business, you want to make sure that your content is included in the StumbleUpon network of sites.

You can do this in a few ways: submit a link to content on your site so that other users can StumbleUpon it, encourage customers to add a link to your site with a review or use the site’s paid promotion option.

Delicious is simply a social bookmarking site. Although the site’s concept is straightforward, it can actually be a valuable tool for your business. You can use one of the official Delicious tool sets or one of the many third-party applications to encourage site visitors to bookmark your site on Delicious.

As each new visitor bookmarks your site, they have the opportunity to share the new bookmark with friends. This process can quickly introduce your site to a new network of potential customers. Delicious is very easy to set up and requires little time to manage on an ongoing basis so it is a social media tool that I’d recommend for all small businesses.

If you’re just getting started with social media for your business, you can be quickly overwhelmed by the plethora of social media sites out there. If you start with these eight you can quickly build your online presence without stressing yourself out.

If you’re a small business owner, what are some of your favorite social media tools?

About Melissa Hincha-Ownby

Melissa is a tech geek that loves writing, loves her kids and loves a little controversy. She's raising two next-gen bloggers to take her place one day.

Filed under: Internet Marketing

One Comment

Chase Granberry

I like this overview Melissa … rather than give people a list of “tools” for these channels (so to speak), it gives people a good 30k ft. view of the main sites they need to figure out.

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