As a Social Media Co-Director for #Fraustino459, it was only a matter of time before I posted a blog regarding social media platforms in some type of way.
You can call me a social media addict at this point in the game, and I'm not even ashamed of it! I won't lie, besides Facebook I was ignorant of all other social media platforms until my freshman year of college. Now? You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and most recently, I gave in to Snapchat. My explanation for my addiction is simple, really: it's part of my major and future career (and secretly — or not so secretly — if you follow me on Twitter, how else would I keep up with the Kardashians?)!
Steering away from my personal addiction, many people consider social media to strictly be used for contact with friends, family, and possibly even acquaintances. However, I'm here to share with you that small town businesses can truly benefit from having accounts on these various social media platforms. If you're a small town business owner, you might think that only major businesses and brands can benefit from having a presence on social media, but you will soon find out as to how you and your business can learn and grow from engaging with others on a few popular social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
With Facebook being the social media platform with the most users worldwide, it should be a top-priority account for small business owners to create and utilize. While Facebook does allow you to pay to "boost" your posts and give you the ability to pay to advertise for your business, those paid features aren't a necessity for small town businesses (although they can be helpful, and the ability to target specific audiences with Facebook ads is quite fierce!).
One of the most important things to do on Facebook is to interact with people and encourage conversation. Relationship building is essential to customer affinity and loyalty, and Facebook is a prime place for this. Consider posting a status asking opinions about one of the new products you designed, or just simply keep people updated about new merchandise coming into your store. Responding and interacting is key! For a quick example to reference, I've chosen to share a post from one of my favorite Grafton, W. Va. shops: Arts and Treasures!
Facebook is also a great way to share your business hours, website, address, phone number, and other basic information, as well as providing page visitors with a way to ask you questions about your business and services. A good rule of thumb is to post something once or twice a day in order to remind people of your page and business. There's even a good amount of advice out there on what times and days of the week to post information based on the audiences you want to reach not only on Facebook but many other platforms as well.
Twitter is commonly thought of as a "young person's social media platform" due to its users' ages and the content commonly shared. In recent years, though, more people within the middle-and upper-age groups have been joining the social media platform and getting involved. It's important to note that plenty of businesses and brands have a strong presence on Twitter, and they use the website as a way to interact with Twitter users and directly address any questions or concerns through customer service.
With more of a variety of age groups on this social media platform now, it is easier for businesses of all sizes to connect with their buyers, whether they're 20 or 50. On Twitter, it's suggested to post multiple times a day. It can be an original tweet coming from your business, perhaps regarding news about your business or a photo. Or you can "retweet" others, whether it's a local news story that impacts your community or spreading news about another local business you support.
Though a newer venture for brands to turn to, Instagram is becoming more popular for businesses and organizations. The platform might not be an initial thought for small town business owners, but you will certainly gain followers in your community and find support from other small town business owners. Instagram allows you to share strictly photo and video content with your followers, which is unlike other popular social media platforms. Followers will appreciate seeing your new products and you may even want to post a video displaying your newest products or a quick tour of your store. Make sure your posts tell a visual story!
It is suggested to only post to Instagram once a day or once every other day, as posts are not as frequently needed as on Facebook or Twitter. In order to gain followers as a smaller business, it's important to interact with other small businesses, in the local area or beyond, as well as various users who have an interest in your type of business. Hashtags are a valuable part of Instagram, and they can greatly assist you in finding similar business types and people with an interest in your business.
Create Your Pages Now!
If you're a small-town business owner, don't hesitate any longer. Start to create your accounts on these top social media platforms and see just how much they can benefit you and your business. You'll enjoy the unique experience as you connect with citizens and visitors of your small town and other business owners in your town and beyond. Social media allows special connections to be formed, and as a business owner, it's important to connect with people to gain ideas and feedback and encourage people to come check out your business and products. One word of caution, though: Make sure you have a plan for engagement and upkeep. Social media tools are for two-way communication, so you (or somebody on your behalf) needs to be available to interact regularly.
So, I challenge all of you small-town business owners, especially some of my #BrandGrafton favorites, to get out there and utilize all of the possible social media platforms you can. Always remember, this Social Media Co-Director is here to lean back on and to answer any questions you may have on how to make the most of your social media accounts.
My name is Mary Elizabeth Kenderdine, and I'm a Social Media Co-Director for RF Branding Group, an agency within Dr. Fraustino's STCM 459 class. As Social Media Co-Director, I will be working closely with my agency and Grafton stakeholders to establish successful social media pages for the town and to provide the necessary people of Grafton with the tools to be able to continue using those social media accounts for years to come. Overall, my goal is to provide the citizens of Grafton with social media pages that they can turn to in order to see what is going on in their town and the amazing things that people in the community are accomplishing. I may be a "Yankee" now, but let's see if Grafton can begin to turn me into a "Southern Belle!" After all, it looks like I'm heading to Georgia following graduation in May, so it may be time to leave my "Yankee" tendencies behind. Be sure to find me on Twitter too: @mekenderdine!