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Can Social Media Really Help Business? If You Don't Do Anything Else, Read This!

It doesn't matter the type of business you have, people turn to Facebook for everything. You may even find that traditional advertising takes a backseat to your online efforts.

Many small businesses in the St. Petersburg area are struggling. They are looking for more clients, more customers, more patients, more investors – and more brand recognition.  

Whether you are a a dog walker, a boutique owner or a dentist, successful branding increasingly depends on the size and quality of your online network of connections.    

Social media can be an isolating experience, if you do not know where to start. Online channels such as Twitter and Facebook offer a potentially powerful set of tools to find and attract new customers, but it may take time to understand it all.

The key is patience, especially for beginners. Take a deep breath and realize it all will make sense over time – and yield big rewards.

You may even find that traditional advertising takes a backseat to your online efforts because of affordability and effectiveness.

Small businesses are creating highly targeted and localized lists of followers, friends and fans, whom they can interact with and send regular updates.  

Customers especially like this new media because they have a more efficient and direct way to find out about special offers, events and news that may affect them.

  • Most social media enthusiasts will tell you that you should start off with a blog, website or a wordpress site. 
  • If you are in need of a website or a website update you can skip that in the beginning and get started building fans. Start with a Facebook page and start adding all the information that your customers will need right away.
  • The potential of social media to help your business is huge. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start by finding out what sites you feel comfortable having a personal profile on first.  
  • Look at your competition's Facebook pages and see what is working for them. Get inspired and then get involved. The only mistake you can make is waiting too long to get started. 
  • It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, people look up everything on Facebook now. They are looking for your address, your reviews, your updates, your news and any special offers that your business may be having right now.  If you are not on Facebook, it is hurting your business.
  • I believe that having a Twitter account is necessary for any small local business, but only if you have figured out how to use Facebook and you are comfortable with the way it functions.  If you do not think you have the time to go on Twitter every day then don’t worry about that until you decide that your business cannot survive without it.

In time, you will be trying new things and gaining confidence.  As you make a connection online, you will feel it in your business. These connections will be superior in quality and quantity than any other effort can bring.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Elizabeth Belcher February 05, 2013 at 09:26 PM
What good will this do for small business owners when the HIllsborough County Board of County Commissioners are trying to give away millions in taxpayer funds to give to a developer so Bass Pro Shop will build a retail store here. If you are as unhappy as I am, e-mail the commissioners at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/booc/home
Michael D. February 05, 2013 at 09:38 PM
I am bias because my field is IT, but I know of quite a few small businesses who are helped by social media. From Facebook to Twitter having your name out there is an excellent way to do things. Especially giving specials to those who follow you.
Victor Pena May 17, 2013 at 06:04 AM
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