For a small business, being quick to adopt new social media trends ahead of the curve can put you ahead of the competition and assert your company as one that "gets it." In an increasingly web-based culture, marketing strategies for small business are becoming more important in keeping the public's attention - sure, good old-fashioned word of mouth still helps, but a modern company has to make waves to get the word out.
Even mom-and-pop restaurants have hopped onto the social media train with Facebook, Twitter and a well-developed website, but here's a peek at the small business solutions of the future - emerging social media that your business can start using today.
Though the startup app Snapchat might cause one to think of a goofy picture of a friend or co-worker that disappears into the cybersphere after a few moments, the application has developed into a veritable marketing tool with a young demographic. According to industry blog Social Media Examiner, businesses have used the app for sending coupons to new followers, passing along photo or video previews of developing products or doing Snapchat giveaways to gain new followers and cross-promote over other social media platforms.
Think of Chirp as Snapchat, but with a short audio clip instead of an image. Chirp is still in its early stages, but essentially generates a two-second sound - a chirp - as a way to encrypt a URL or message, which will then appear on a user's mobile device or browser. It's ideal for location-based marketing, as users nearby can receive a "chirped" coupon from a nearby business and take advantage of the offer in almost real time.
3) Vine and Instagram Video
Video marketing used to be little more than big-budget commercials, but as social media has grown standard in marketing strategies for small business, other free applications have asserted themselves as bite-sized, web-inspired commercials for the next generation. Vine, the first to bust into the market, offers users a six-second window to create a short, automatically looped marketing statement - common uses include stop-animation pieces or bonus clips from an existing commercial or spokesperson.
Instagram Video was launched in the summer of 2013 as a companion to the popular photo service, and offers a full 15 seconds of content for customers. Like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Vine use cloud servers to host their content, so videos can be created on the go at company events or while traveling.
Part of what can fatigue a small business' social media efforts is the frequency of posting, especially if there is not a dedicated member of staff to handle it. Hootsuite is the first step in eliminating this issue - it's a hub for your primary cloud services, and a user can schedule Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog posts and more to be posted days and weeks in advance. This way, one sit-down session a week can keep your social media plan going strong. Plus, HootSuite is a completely free service, and posts can be unscheduled and eliminated at any time.
Whether it's pertaining to your business phone line, cloud server provider or social media, web-based security is amongst the primary concerns for today's businesses. As small companies accrue more social media presence and, subsequently, usernames and passwords, the LastPass app can serve as a safe and easy catch-all. New users create one password to use the app, which encrypts and complicates your existing social media passwords to fend off even the trickiest of hackers. LastPass can be used on a browser or remotely, and is the key to increased security and the cure for forgetful users.
There you have it - the shortlist of what is useful to have in your tool belt to put your business' best foot forward. Happy app-ing!