Tips and Trends: Social Media Generate Sales

Photo by Aaron Daye

By Cynthia Barnett, Florida Trend

If you think using Twitter, Facebook and the like to promote your small business is a waste of time, consider this story from Julie Garrett, who heads up social media at Santa Fe College in Gainesville: A local woman tweeted that she was dreading spending the day car shopping. A Gainesville dealer who monitors tweets relating to car shopping caught her remark. The two had never met, and he was not her Twitter follower. But he was able to send her a message via Twitter. The two communicated several times as she shopped. By the end of the day, she felt she owed him a stop. And that’s where she bought her car. “True story,” says Garrett. “The dealer must have been monitoring the key words ‘car shopping,’ which was really savvy of him.”

The value of social media, says Garrett, is the ability to engage in a two-way conversation with your customers or potential customers. “It’s not the place solely to push out information about your new products or discounts,” she says. “You want to use social media to build relationships, build loyalty, communicate to your customers that you care about them. In return, you can find out what your customers want. You do your own market research.”

Garrett recommends that small businesses consider HootSuite.Com as a social media dashboard to avoid spending too much time managing a Facebook page or Twitter account. HootSuite allows users to manage all social media profiles at once, making it easy to track conversations and brand mentions, as the car dealer did. A scheduling feature lets you write messages when it’s convenient and schedule them to pop up at specific times. An analytics feature generates reports so you can evaluate the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Garrett suggests reading “The Thank You Economy” by social-media guru Gary Vaynerchuk to learn what social media can do for your small business. Finally, she recommends checking out your local community college’s continuing education department for inexpensive classes and seminars on social media.

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