I have been thinking about this a lot and I’m starting to see it more and more small business owners focusing their attention online where big businesses are falling behind. The main reason I see this is the affordability – where else can you virtually advertise your products and services for next to nothing. Small businesses are agile and quick, they are not usually tied down by red tape and the need to review every public statement before they are made.

Consider the services that you have at your finger tips now; Social Media, Email, Ad serving, SEO – online these tools cost pennies on the dollar compared to their other media counterparts. This is where the agile and savvy small business owner will be able to level the playing field with their largest counterparts.

Lets start with Twitter:

  • Find local influencer’s in your area (ex: Toronto Elite users)
  • Search and follow those that appear to be interested in your product/service – Do not just follow everyone on the list. Be selective, be targeted and look for the right audience.
  • Engage these users in a dialog – read their tweets have conversations with them – doing this will increase the likely hood of them following you back. A good personality is also very helpful
  • Don’t just advertise – no one wants to hear that all day, be yourself – Be the public face instead of the sales person, but don’t sell yourself short, you can soft sell your company (but i’d say no more then 1 in 10 tweets should be a promotion for your brand – others might say 1 in 20 – test and find your limits)
  • Be persistent – you won’t have thousands of followers over night (oh yeah stay away from those services too) but providing insightful and useful information, being part of the conversation and they will come – The saying truly fits this time “If you build it they will come”.
  • Expect to get feedback – in fact go looking for it (search example) via twitter search. Tip: Twitter lets you subscribe to your search results via RSS so your always updated.

Okay so you have setup with Twitter account, you have followed a number of interested people and now you want to start integrating Social Networks into your email.

My advice start simple, many marketers that are diving into the social scene are starting simple – this is good. Work with your email list and let your subscribers know where you can be found – be it Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, or [Insert Network Here]. Provide Subscribers to share the Web version of your email (you know where you usually say “View the Web Version” – add the option to “Share the web Version”). This will give you a chance to grow your member base and get a good start with finding already connected friends, fans and followers.

For more advanced uses of these Social network sharing services I’d recommend you subscribe to the Social Media newsletter from smartbrief.com – they have individual stories that you can share with a click of a button to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and email.

Remember most social networks are free – yeah you heard me FREE – to use, and require only that you invest the time and attention being evolved with your virtual neighbors.

Have an opinion? Share it with me by commenting here or sending me a tweet @emailkarma