Some small businesses are afraid of online marketing. Instead, they turn to tried and true methods: Newspapers, local magazines, fliers in mailboxes and maybe an occasional email. But, guess what? Most of our lives are now online. If your business isn't online, you probably aren't going to reach your customers (or you're much less likely to).

There's been a lot of discussion about why small businesses don't use online marketing. It often comes down to this: It's confusing and it's expensive. The good news is that there are a lot of simple and free ways - yes, I said free! - to market your company online. You've hopefully already heard about social media. I've talked before about how powerful it can be, but I don't think people can overemphasize that point, especially for SMBs. Plus, with a limited marketing budget, you get a lot of bang for your buck. The only expense is time.

socialmagnify4 easy ways to start social media marketing
So, go online, set up an account on Facebook and Twitter - that will be enough to get started. If you already have social media accounts, then you're ahead of the curve. After you've created those accounts, here a few tips for taking full advantage of social media:

  1. Be tactical when you complete the "about" sections on your social media profiles. This is a chance to highlight your products and services, the value of your business and to incorporate any keywords that are relevant to your company. This will actually help customers find your profile and also make it clear to them what you're all about. 
  2. Get a personalized URL. Different sites should allow you to do this. Ideally, your URL will include your business name, location or some combination of the two. This will make it easier for you to share your social media presence with your customers on fliers, in your store, by word of mouth or other means. For example, our Facebook URL is and our Twitter URL is
  3. Create or post shareable content. The idea of social media is to engage with your customers. Make sure that your content is asking them for feedback and that it's relevant to them. It's also important to include videos, images and other content that is going to immediately grab their attention. Other content ideas are quotes, coupons or promotions, events, re-sharing news stories or information posted by others. On our new site, we have a section called "Why Customers Choose Fonality" which shows how our products help our customers - plus, it's a nice way of directing some attention to a client.
  4. Set a schedule. It's important to post content regularly and to plan content in advance. You should also be monitoring your pages for customer feedback and questions, and responding to that activity as soon as possible. Remember, this is a customer service opportunity, so always be professional and helpful.

Once you start to develop a web presence through social media, it will be so much easier to move forward with other online marketing efforts. Embrace the future, good luck and happy web-surfing!