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Ian Blair

7 Step Beginner’s Guide To Effective Social Media for Small Business

I still remember the days of traditional media, when a lot of money is spent to gain popularity through billboards and TV advertising.

At the time, you have to pay through your nose.

But it’s a different story today. Social media has changed everything, and small businesses have been placed on the same pedestal as the big companies.

As a small business owner, you don’t have to run helter skelter looking for thousands of dollars – before you can reach the target audience with your offers. There’s no need for that again.

The need to build a strong brand has drifted from traditional to social media. It’s high time you capitalize on this new trend.

 

Why Social Media?

Well, your ideal customers live there presently. They don’t just live there, they’re active social media users, and making purchases as they interact on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more.

You’ve got to reach your ideal customers wherever they are.

As you create more awareness through social media, you build interest, which in turn generates sales. The social media purchase funnel explains it better:

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Social media has become the main driver of internet activities and every online business revolves around it. Therefore, it’s important to learn how you can grow your brand through it.

If millions people are active on Facebook alone, then there’s no doubt that social media has become the fulcrum of digital marketing.

 

What is Social Media Marketing?

According to Mashable, social media marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites.

In a nutshell, it’s the process of using social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more to promote your brand and increase revenue.

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Shout it:

“I need social media because your audience is there.”

When you start generating traffic from social media sites, you can redirect the leads into your funnel and build relationship with them.

Apart from generating leads, you can use social media for several other objectives. For example, Cadbury’s leveraged its Facebook page to gain 40,000 new fans and 350,000 motivated people who participated in its campaign.

L’Oreal uses social media for recruitment purposes, and got 153 applicants.

As you know, if your customers don’t come in contact with your products and services, they will never have interest in it. Or do you expect your customers to fall for a brand they no nothing about?

Did you know that out of 2.4 billion people accessing the internet, 74% of them use social media networking sites?

You can build online community by capitalizing on social media networks. With this community, more people can become aware of your products.

So many brands have benefitted from social media marketing. For example, Tchibo company invested in social media and had 1.3 times ROI.

Do you really need social media to grow your small business?

Absolutely.

The ideal customers you’re looking for are already interacting with their friends, colleagues, and family members on social media sites.

According to Cloudswave, almost 50% Facebook users are friends with their parents.

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When it comes to social media marketing, remember that your audience wants to be entertained and engaged.

Social media gives you direct access and communication with these potential customers to grow your brand with little cost.

Social Media is the fastest way to create awareness. It’s only through social media that a post can go viral within minutes, with no restrictions.

You have to leverage on the benefits of social media to grow your brand. If you neglect it, I guess you’re still comfortable where you are, and you will still remain there much longer until you change.

Taking the first step is always a big problem for beginners. This in-depth article will guide you. To help ensure that your small business stays in the black, take the time to familiarize yourself with these social media tips:

 

1. Know Your Numbers: Collect User Data

“Small business owners need to know a lot of numbers.”

Barry Moltz, QuickBooks

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could predict your small business’ social media success?

Do you know your numbers?

As it is with financial matters, so it is with social media marketing and building an online business in general.

Through marketing automation, you can collect user data and use them to make smart decisions. Truly, automation is almost everything these days.

Funny enough, 54% of big brands surveyed by KiteWheel in 2014 said they would like to detect and reply automatically to consumers on social media, while 34% are currently working to automate their social media.

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As a marketer who wants to generate quality leads, you need to measure and understand your key performance indicators (KPIs).

As you collect intelligent user data, you’re well-positioned to improve and effectively manage your social media campaigns online.

Striving to collect and analyze data manually is almost impossible these days. I said “almost” because it can be done. But you don’t want to waste your precious time cutting an iron with a wooden saw.

The good news is, there are specific tools for measuring social media performance. In particular, Twitter has a lot of analytics tools.

Twitter Archivist is an analytics tool that helps track a hashtag campaign, monitor your brand on Twitter, capture a tweet during conferences, concerts or sports events, and more.

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What does Twitterachivist.com do?

On the dashboard, you’ll see the statistics of Twitter followers per week, and those who unfollowed your brand. You also get to see tags that people are reacting to and why. Isn’t that wonderful?

Twitter Archivist allows beginners understand what’s really engaging followers, particularly on Twitter.

Learning how social users behave is critical to your success. If you’re going to reap the rewards of social media for your small business, then you must not ignore these user behavioral data.

For one, the data you collect and use when people like your page on Facebook is something to shout about.

For example, users submit their full names, locations, likes and dislikes, academic status, and more.

These are vital information; which in turn becomes an an asset for marketers to use in reaching and engaging potential customers. The more engagement you create, the more customers you’ll send to your business.

In case you’re not aware…

You can actually acquire paying customers from social media. Several case studies have proven this to be true. Social media networks aren’t for meeting people and leaving them the way you met them. Far from it.

According to HubSpot, 67% of B2C companies have acquiring a customer through Facebook.

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What differentiates traditional media from social media is the ability that businesses have to use customer’s data to reach and communicate with them in a language they understand, rather than using billboards, TV commercials, Radio jingles, and more to advertise. Social media marketing pulls people in, traditional media interrupts and has the tendency of annoying viewers.

With powerful tools like Twitter Archivist, you get insights into users’ behaviors, their level of passion on your brand, mode of interaction, and the potentials that these users will become influencers in the nearest future.

There’s no alternative to knowing your audience. Science and Technology can’t replace it. Ideally, define your audience by gender, age, interest, profession, and so forth.

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Conduct exclusive research to know your audience’s pain points. And device means to solve their problems in an interesting manner. Remember, it’s still “social” media.

One important point…

If you want to drive targeted traffic and acquire customers through social media marketing, you need to eliminate uncertainty.

Once you’ve identified a group of ideal customers on social media networks, you’re ready to take the plunge and adopt them. To successfully seal the deal, you’ve got to ensure that you eliminate every trace of uncertainty from your buyer’s mind. How?

Isn’t it obvious?

Anyways, the simple way to do it is by answering their questions. There are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that you should answer about your brand, culture, products, team, and everything in between.

In a recent post that appeared on The New York Times, the author Mark Cohen shared an inspiring case study of how Marcus Sheridan, founder of River Pools and Spas spent $250,000 a year on radio, Television, and pay per click advertising – but got no tangible results to show for it.

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But it didn’t end there. Because when Sheridan started answering prospect’s questions via his blog, social media channels, and other platforms, his company’s revenue went through the roof.

Interestingly, a single blog post he wrote that answered an important question netted the company a $2,000,000 contract.

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Note that you can answer questions, not only on Twitter or Facebook, but also on your own website.

Most ecommerce websites have a FAQs section on their websites. It usually appears at the top-level navigation, where site users and customers can easily find it.

You don’t have to call it “FAQs.” You can get creative and choose a better description. For example, Shopify refers to this dedicated page where all the frequently asked questions are answered “Help Center.”

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All the questions that you’ll ever ask when planning to use Shopify shopping cart software has been answered.

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When you click on any of the topics, you’ll find an answer to the question of how to use shopify (e.g., for Reports and analytics, Payment settings).

The last time I checked, my question was clearly answered, and I browsed the knowledge base hoping to find a bunch of other questions I didn’t even know I had.

One of the major reasons why knowing your audience is an all-important social media strategy is because it helps you during segmentation. And of course, it’s a lot easier to segment email subscribers than Twitter followers.

That means you should endeavor to send your social media fans to your landing page. Once you’ve them on your email list, you can start building relationship with them.

[thrive_lead_lock id=’14525′]Hidden Content[/thrive_lead_lock]

So why do you need to segment your audience?

It’s because sending the same content to every email subscriber is a mistake of the century. But sending custom content based on subscriber history, persona, stage of the buying cycle, and purchase history will get you more conversions.

 

2. Prove Your Expertise so People Can Follow You

Why would people follow you on Twitter or like your Facebook page?

Do you’ve the expert power to prove your expertise, help others, and more importantly, stay humble?

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Are you sure you’re an expert in your field? If you claim you’re, then you need to show it – and not necessarily talk about it.

According to Lisa Sasevich, “credibility is kind of like credit, you’ve got to have it in order to get it.”

You can to prove your expertise, especially if you’re new to your niche. Doing this will give ideal customers a firm grip of your brand and they’ll go the extra mile with you.

Following you on Twitter is just a small part of what credibility can give to you.

In case you’re not aware, your audience likes to associate with unique and famous brands.

There are several ways to prove that you’re an expert. Lisa shares 3 simple but powerful strategies:

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Additionally, post free and helpful content that answers people’s questions. This would inspire more people to follow you. Who doesn’t want to associate with a marketer or brand that can solve their problems?

Absolutely no one.

Coin a  content that will be celebrated and shared. Why the celebration?

Your content should be engaging and entertaining. Do not bore your followers with generic content. Create variety of content to lure Twitter users.

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Give away valuable freebies like, ebooks, software, apps…, with these, you are motivating users to follow you, stick to your brand and refer others.

And talking about getting more Twitter followers, here are 3 powerful tips that you can implement today:

i).   Create compelling Twitter description: How do you recognise a good description? It’s got to have the target keyword and power words in it. When people visit your Twitter page, they should know what you’re all about.

Since the goal is to attract the right followers, mention the keyword that you’re after and if possible the group of people that will benefit from it. Also, keep your description simple and clear.

ii).  Use hashtags approach: You simply have to subscribe to a few relevant hashtags. This enables you to find the right people to follow, and those who will follow you.

You’ll notice that some influencers – Twitter users who get retweeted a lot and cover similar topics will likely follow you and amplify your reach.

iii).  Retweet useful posts: Social media marketing, especially on Twitter is all about reciprocating kind gestures. For example, if people follow you, you should follow them as well.

Retweeting useful and interesting posts can equally bring new followers to you.

How do you feel when someone retweets your content? You’re excited right? Well, it’s time to spread the news.

Deliberately find useful content and share it. Social media was created for this after all. The users you want to attract will notice you quickly and follow you.

Most brands are scared of retweeting their competitors, but you shouldn’t be. In fact, you should do it more often. When sharing posts, be sure to @ mention the source of the content if it’s not your own, it’s the right thing to do and a good social strategy, too.

Once you’ve generated the followers, don’t stop there. You’ve got to sustain them. To sustain customers, you must be good at what you do.

A lot of small businesses have benefitted from social media marketing. For example, Brafton used content and social media to build brand awareness for 200% more organic visits.

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Remember that bombarding your followers with content every now and them is not the solution. Ask yourself this question, “how has your content helped your audience and brand so far?”

When the audience clicks “like” to follow you, they are expecting a lot of value from your brand. If you fail to deliver, they will opt out.

One statistics shows that 51% of social users sometimes get bored on social media after accessing their account.

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To really excite your Twitter followers and build relationship with them. Learn to curate and share useful content. I’m talking about content you didn’t create yourself.

When you visit industry blogs and discussion boards and find a helpful content, share it with your fans. They’ll love it and deliberately choose to be with your brand.

 

3. Listen And Share (i.e., Social Listening)

The truth is, you don’t want to communicate or share off-topic content.

That would drive your social media fans away. Yes, we’re advised to niche down and focus on a particular group of market, and it’s good.

But don’t make the mistake of communicating with people when you have not listened to them.

Have you heard of the term “social listening” before?

Social listening, also referred to as media monitoring is the process of searching the web and social platforms to know what people are saying and how to get into the conversation.

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You need to have an open mind if you truly want to know what’s happening in the social space.

Yes, every feedback (whether positive or negative is important).

Sadly, most marketers were excited and happy to generate followers, but occasionally they get negative tweets from these followers – and this made them unhappy. They forget that over 80% of customers related tweets are negative.

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And 93% of customers expect a response within an hour. Imagine the type of response they expect after leaving a negative tweet.

But as a small business owner, it’s your responsibility to respond in a thoughtful manner nonetheless.

You should care about users and what they think of your brand.

Do you have a feedback channel or tool for monitoring what’s going on with your brand; what people dislike about your product?

Or you just don’t care?

Spend time listening to your followers. If you’re too bored and irritated about complaint, you’ll find it hard to make much progress via social media. Worse, it leads to epic social media fails.

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What do you expect when your followers aren’t satisfied?

The insights you’ll gain from a customer’s complaint and feedback are priceless. They are your tool for work, these information are your assets. If properly utilized, you will grow your small business faster.

Here are simple ways to listen to your audience and share useful posts with them:

i).   Search for keywords your audience is using:  Use Google Keywords Planner to know exactly what your target audience is entering into Google search, what they’re interested in, and what they’re complaining about.

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When you don’t research your keyword before writing, you will be like a medical doctor treating infertility on a patient with a bone fracture.

Listening is priceless.

Compete tracked success story of marketers that listened, researched and were on track to get keywords that represents the customer’s pain points.

Through content marketing, Compete recorded dramatic customer engagement – all because the social media team listened to the audience.

ii). Through conversation, get to know your customers pain: When you chat with your customers, enquire about their lives, businesses, and lifestyle. Interestingly, their responses will serve as clues of what you’ll write next.

iii). Identify your key influencers and advocates: Encourage your key influencers by sharing their posts, retweeting their links, leaving a useful comment on their blogs and supporting them.

Reward your brand advocates with gifts, you’ll build strong engagement at the end of day.

iv).  Know where your social community is located: Whether they’re on Twitter or Facebook you should know the particular social media channel that gets your ideal customers excited and interested.

v). Improve on your customer service: Be timely and polite in your response. Train your staff to be polite, too. Deliver on your promises. Don’t be too hard to reach.

 

4. Create a workable daily plan for social sharing

Because there are so much to do with little time, you need to develop the right plan for effective social media marketing. Do your small business this favor, so you don’t get overwhelmed with the daily tasks ahead.

Tweeting alone is demanding. For example, Tristan Barnum went from 0 to 100 Twitter followers in just 7 days by tweeting no less than 11 times per day, not including stuff he’s retweeting.

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Don’t just share posts on social media platforms anytime you like.

You’ll never be effective that way.

Interestingly, you could use a social media strategy template.

It’s simple. When you’re armed with a social media strategy, you’re ready to bridge the gap between where you currently are with your social media goals and where you want to be. With this strategy, you’ll succeed.

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You can use a template to develop a social media strategy. Of course, this will help you in social sharing and other activities.

Ideally, you need to respond to important questions in each step to establish what your core goals are, how you will achieve them, and how you will measure success.

Don’t forget a particular task that you need to execute. Hence the need for planning.

For instance, you can tweet and retweet 3x per day, schedule the times for each tweet, to which category of your audience. To a large extent, the more tweets you send, the more engagement you’ll create.

Schedule a single post for your different social media accounts, share links and “like” other people’s links. Remember, it’s a social network, you have to create time to socialise.

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Create an action. Initiate conversation, ask trending questions, be controversial sometimes (but have a back up), engage your followers, comment on postings and lots more.

In social media, no room for idleness, everybody need to be busy.

Learn to appreciate users who share your posts and retweeted. They’re the future of your digital marketing. Call them if possible, make them feel homely, so that they will do more.

Remember that traffic never happens except you work for it deliberately. You’ve to be on top of your game to grow your small business online presence.

5. Leverage Social Media Advertising to Drive Results

If you want to drive visitors to your small business website, you can’t continue with the free social media marketing strategy. Sure it works, but it can take years to produce enviable results.

You need paid social advertising. Why?

Because this ROI is encouraging. In fact, 96% of CMOs are beginning to look beyond sales goals and web metrics to identify the value of social marketing efforts.

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At some point, you have to set some money aside for social media paid advertising.

If your brand hasn’t gained much traction online, it doesn’t matter how useful your product or service might be, the right people may not be interested.

You can set up a Facebook ads campaign and drive tens of thousands of visitors to your websites and make more money.

For example, Lange Financial Group spent $181.93 targeted content to local audience on Facebook and generated 594 people to their page.

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Facebook advertising works if done correctly.

Navid Moazzez spent $4,159 on ads and generated $36,449 in revenue from his Virtual Summit Mastery course.

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Are you taking advantage of social media PPC advertising?

Take for instance, Linkedin offers opportunities for small businesses to reach a specific audience and increase your brand visibility.

Don’t ignore social media advertising. Use it now before the competition gets off the hook.

 

6. Develop A Good Social Media Strategy

This should be on your to-do list as a small business owner.

We mentioned developing a social media strategy earlier. It’s worth mentioning again because of its importance.

Social media plan is the step-by-step approach you take when developing a strategy. It shows you what comes first, and the sequence.

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If you start integrating social media to grow your online presence, it might seem like a trial and error at first. Because you don’t know what you stand to gain from it.

I mean, it’s hard to predict what the future holds.

However, with a good strategy, though you may not predict accurately (and you’re not required to) how much revenue you’ll generate, but you surely will know that you can’t fail. It’ll only get better.

Sharpie, a permanent marketer company based in the US developed a social media strategy that puts spotlight on the customers.

This helped the company increase customer loyalty and retention. How does Sharpie achieve this?

By sharing samples of customer’s artworks and featuring case studies.

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You can use social media in virtually every aspect of your business. You can use it in marketing, sales, customer support, customer engagement and retention, and more.

A recent article that appeared on Forbes revealed that 78% of salespeople using social media sell more than others that aren’t using it.

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Of course, you don’t expect to get overnight results with social media marketing. Smart marketers stick to it, and learn along the way.

At the surface, it may look easy. But there’s a difference between being “simple” and “easy.”

The first time I dived into a swimming pool, I tried to imitate the professional swimmers there. I had never been to the swimming pool before, because I couldn’t swim.

Funny enough, it appeared very easy until I made my way into the water, then I realized how difficult it’s to float on the water without sinking. That was when I came to understand what differentiates a newbie, from an already practicing fellow.

That’s just how it is with developing a good social media strategy.

Though you might have a clue on how to get there, but it would be perfect if you have a plan.

Because according to a Survey result by TMS, it was clear that corporate strategy (in this sense, plans that are no longer favorable to the company) contributed 45.41% to company failures.

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If that’s the case, then you can imagine how critical it would be to start social media marketing without a proper plan or no plan at all. That would be disaster.

Therefore, before you begin posting on Facebook, Twitter and so on, you need to have a plan of action.

If you don’t know where to start, here are few steps to guide you in developing a good social media plan:

i).   Decide your social platform: Despite the relevance of social media to your business, you need to use your time well. All social sites are not created equal.

In like manner, your results will differ.

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To get better at social media marketing and eventually get results, save your time and pick a handful social platforms that are relevant brand and products.

In my own experience, Instagram and Pinterest are best for fashion, lifestyle, and niches where marketing is effectively delivered through visual content.

ii).    Complete your social data: By completing your social profile and filling in all the required data, it gives the impression that you’re fully out for business, more especially your bio/info and brand culture.

Share a glimpse of what people stand to gain by following your brand on social media.

iii).   Develop your brand voice: You need to relate with people personally. Sometimes, it’s not the authenticity of the message or content that counts, but how you say it. That’s your brand voice.

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Your brand voice has to be unique and useful, and your audience won’t get tired of revisiting your social pages.

iv).   Choose post type and when to post: The type of content you publish determines how engaged your audience will be – and whether or not they’ll abandon your brand.

That being said, consistent posting will keep your audience engaged, but you need to know how frequently to publish on each of your social platforms.

Brands that tweet multiple times per day see great results. For example, this case study shows that posting once every six hours during work hours, will gain more visibility for your post.

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v).   Analyse your posting strategy: You’ll never know what works best for you, until you try it out. Because what works for me might not work for your business.

With consistency, you’ll definitely know what’s working, when not to post and the type of content that your social fans prefer. Judging on which content, frequency, and timing that works most for you will further improve your social media strategy.

 

7. Organize Your Social Channels

No matter the size of your small business, organization will bring you before Kings.

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We can’t deny the power that social media has to connect and and grow businesses of all sizes, and how strong the medium is with influencing purchase decisions.

Did you know that social media marketing has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate, and 84% of B2B brands use social media to grow their brand?

In fact, 17% of sales leads come from social media, according to a study by Aberdeen Group in 2011.

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Having several social media accounts can pose a big problem. This can complicate the entire process.

Therefore, organizing your social channels is critical. You can’t afford to log in to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more, separately.

There are social media management tools that can handle this organization seamlessly. Buffer is my favorite. But you can use Hootsuite, Sproutsocial, and more.

A great social media CRM tool makes it easier for you to maintain a consistent audience engagement across multiple social accounts. You can post to multiple social accounts from a single interface.

Take a closer look at the screenshot below. It shows a post made on different platforms.

Sure they all appeared differently in relation to the platforms. But despite the difference in structure, they’re all aimed at one goal/keyword ‘pee’.

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Apart from being on different social platforms, you need to have your own personal account too. If that’s the case, then all you have to do is to separate your business accounts from your personal accounts.

Having done that, pull together all your business social accounts in one list, and your personal social accounts in another.

Add social sharing button on your single blog posts. Then encourage your visitors and readers to share your posts.

In addition to that, you can add live social media feed to your WordPress blog, so that your audience can see your recent posts, and share it with others at the click on a button.

 

Conclusion

I’ve shared a lot of really good advice here on what works and what doesn’t in terms of using social media to grow your small business.

These strategies are great if you want to see consistent growth of your Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and acquire loyal customers to your brand.

If you look in-between the lines, you’ll notice that I didn’t share a single powerful hack for getting your small business off the ground via social media.

I’m afraid there’s no switch to flip as you leverage social media for small business. It takes time. In my own personal experience, the above tactics have been proven – but you MUST be patient, determined, and consistent.

Overall, starting a small business is easy – growing the same business is hard!

In social media marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You have to take one step and master it before proceeding with another. Did I tell you that you’ll get better results if you take baby steps?

Yes you will.

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Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.