Small businesses can benefit tremendously from social media tools. Businesses have used social media tools to find new customers, increase brand loyalty, and even provide customer support. Some of the small business owners we have spoken to said that “Their business is too small” to have a social media presence. I think, small businesses can gain as much benefit from social media as large organizations, and no business is too small to make use of social media tools, because these tools are free to use.

Creating a page on Facebook, or signing up for Twitter is the first step, but its not enough. To effectively leverage the social media tools for marketing, businesses need to have a social media strategy. Every business owner should spend some time to think about the social media strategy for his business. Some of the important points to consider are:

1. Goals for social media

It is important to identify what you want to achieve out of social media. Do you want to get more likes, connect with more people, use social media as your PR platform, or use it as a customer support tool.

2. Select platforms for specific purpose

Once you have identified your goals, you can narrow down the tools that would be effective for that particular goal. For example, Twitter can be really useful tool for giving instantaneous feedback and support. Have a look at the Social Media Inforgraphic put together by Ann Premazon, it highlights the pros and cons of different platforms.

3. Optimize the platform

Most of the social media platforms allow users to set-up the tool according to the user’s needs and requirements. For example, you can use your Facebook business page only for one way communication by disabling comments. This can be useful if a company wants to use the page for company updates or PR only and use some other platform for engaging with the customers.

4. Stick to your strategy

Building a social media presence is a time consuming process, and you might not see results for your efforts immediately. Most of the businesses give up hope at this stage and stop using these tools. It is very important to be “active” and create useful content. It might take some time, but once you have built a loyal base of fans and followers, you will have them for life.

Having a social media strategy and following that strategy can result in many benefits for small businesses. The more people you are connected to the more chances you have of realizing unexpected benefits.