Social Media for Business: Staying in Your Small Business Lane

A woman sitting her laptop with a cup of coffeeJust because you run a small business, it doesn’t mean you can’t compete. It just means you need to contend where it makes the most sense. With social media, this means “staying in your lane” and staying away from head-to-head competition with the big brands. The following example shows you how.

Speak Softly (But Carry a Big Stick)

Don’t try to out-shout the big brands on social media. With the resources they have, you’ll run out of breath long before they do. Instead, use the advantages you have as a small business to create compelling social efforts that uniquely stand out.

Here’s an example:

On arguably the biggest sale day of the year, Black Friday, brands like Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and Target spend nearly a quarter of a billion marketing dollars to convince consumers to come in and buy merchandise at heavily discounted prices. If you run an independent retail store, you certainly can’t match their marketing dollars, and if you discount the way they do, you’ll be out of business before the holidays.

The big brands are out of your league, essentially, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be successful on Black Friday. You have the advantage of being small, nimble, flexible and personable. And while heavy-hitting retailers fill social media with door-busters and crazy-low pricing Thanksgiving weekend, you can use this advantage on social media to offer the one thing they can’t: a little sanity on an otherwise crazy day.

Post images on Pinterest, Facebook or other platforms showing you and your employees delivering service with a personal touch. Consider offering longer warranties on products (instead of gauging your prices) to convey that you see customers as long-term relationships and not just price points.

While media tends to cover Black Friday from a negative standpoint (i.e. customers fighting over sale items, or worse), pitch local news stations on your positive approach to the weekend, then post flattering reports on social, where they’ll shine instead of feeding into the social pool of negativity. Control the social narrative by engaging your audience with sincerity. A response from the business owner – i.e. you – will be much more appreciated than one that’s delivered by a big-brand algorithm or drone at a computer terminal.

Small businesses make up a huge percentage of the American business landscape, and for the most part enjoy a positive impression among consumers. Connecting and engaging with them will win their loyalty and admiration, not to mention more business and recommendations that can flourish like wildfire on social media.

Small Businesses and Social Go Hand-In-Hand

Another way you can leverage social media as a small business owner is to make it an extension of your existing consumer base. Social is a great way to share and receive immediate, actionable feedback in ways big brand retailers can’t. If someone says they’d like to see more pet-centric products in your store, and 283 of their Facebook friends agree, you can start working on it immediately. Big brands would never have the ability to pivot this fast.

The most important thing social media lets you do is get cozy and interact with the consuming public. Few mediums offer this type of synergy. In fact, it’s almost as if social media and small businesses were made for each other.

So don’t be afraid to put this synergy between social media and your small business to work. More importantly, don’t feel bad if you can’t compete against the big brands on social. Because they were never your real competition in the first place.

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