As I mentioned in my last post from Friday, the most common concern that I encountered during the Social Networking for Business workshop we led last month, was the lack of free time small business owners had at their disposal. We had a long list of online marketin strategies these businesses could employ, but running a small business is no easy task, and especially in this economic climate, the members of our audience simply couldn't afford to waste their timTimee on anything less than the essential. They wanted to know what they should be doing if they only have a little bit of time to dedicate to social media. 

After giving the issue some thought, I distilled our workshop to three action items (plus extra credit!) that people can focus on if they're short on time (and who isn't these days).

 

1. Sign up for Twitter and Facebook.

They're the two hottest social networks right now, and you should establish a presence on both of them. Different businesses will want to employ different strategies on these sites. Look around at the competition, and see what they're using these sites for. Then, use your creativity to come up with some original ways to take advantage of these powerful and incredibly popular channels. The biggest reason to start now? Branding is everything. Secure your brand's Twitter username and Facebook vanity URL before someone else does.

2. Start a Blog.

Take your static site and make it a fresh source of new and valuable content with the addition of a blog. Turn comments ON, and encourage your users to share their thoughts as well. Include specific prompts in your blog posts to spark discussion. And if you think you've run out of things to write about, this list should keep you going for a while. The biggest reason to start now? Customers want to feel valued and appreciated, but most of all they want to feel that the businesses they deal with are human and not run by corporate drones. Nothing will add a human touch to your site like a blog. Don't be afraid to let down your guard a bit and take on a more personal tone.

3. Get Google Analytics.

It is critical to have analytics software in place to track your site's traffic and conversions. Online marketing, is a scientific, guess-and-check process. You can guess all you want, but without analytics in place, you can't check your progress. The biggest reason to start now? Technically speaking, this should have been number one on the list. There is little point in making an effort to market yourself online without being able to see the fruits of your labor. Google Analytics is free and easy to install, so you have no excuse not to start using it.

4. Extra Credit - Multimedia.

If you're staying active on Twitter and Facebook, blogging on a regular basis, tracking your progress in Google Analytics, and still have a bit of extra time on your hands, start creating multimedia resources for your users. Create a YouTube channel, or start a podcast. Upload pictures of your company and your products to Flickr. The goals here are the same as above - make your company approachable, and provide valuable resources to your potential customers.

Good luck!

 Photo by zoutedrop

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