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Many owners of small businesses think of social media as a one-way street to sell something. You put your business up on Facebook, and buyers come calling.
There is much more to it than that. Putting up a picture on Facebook or other social media attracts attention. You get the eyeballs for a few seconds. They might read the words you've included, or they might not. They might hit the "like" and pass it on, or they might not. They might click on your website handle, or they might not. Lastly, they might leave a comment, or they might not.
People have a short attention span. The picture you post on Facebook can be just about anything--street scenes, the newest product you offer, close-ups of hands massaging someone's back, a cake you've just baked and decorated, a plate of scrambled eggs and toast. Birds, flowers and puppies always attract attention.
Example: Heather is a Reiki expert. She has a local clientele that is growing. When she went on Facebook and LinkedIn, a funny thing happened. She expanded in a way that she had not considered. Not only did she begin pulling clients from farther afield, but several people pointed her in a completely new direction--teaching Reiki long distance. She reworked her website and now offers courses on Reiki over the Internet. She put together a webinar and attracted even more attention when she began posting on Facebook twice each week.
Example: Patrick runs a cafe offering breakfast and lunch only. He was somewhat reluctant to create a Facebook presence. When he did, he got some comments back that helped him expand. His current customers were mainly trades people--electricians, plumbers and contractors stopped in for breakfast or grabbed a quick lunch. Also, Patrick had a sprinkling of professionals and office workers. Patrick noticed comments from office workers who wanted to eat "healthy" breakfasts and lunches. He began adding items to the menu and saw that just about everyone was ordering "healthy" including the tradespeople. Patrick had caught a market wave by listening to social media feedback. He now posts on Facebook every day--specials and stand-bys.
Feedback from social media can help small businesses stay on top of current trends and grow. When you listen, people are more likely to tell you things you will not hear in person from them. Sometimes it takes reading between the lines of comments, but the feedback is there.
Look at social media as a promotional tool. It's fast, and it's cheap--free in most cases. Success comes only when you use it, and that's up to you.