Could you imagine?

This was the sentiment offered up by a few participants in last night's #ADvise chat in response to discussion about social media and the future of advertising in general. theKbuzz co-founders @davekerpen and @carriekerpen both argued that of course small/local businesses can benefit from social media... when used correctly. So I'm here to quickly talk about a few things you can do (and that we've done for some of our own small business clients before) right now to utilize social media in your smaller business marketing plan.

- Use the hyper-targeting capabilities of Facebook and MySpace ads to reach potential customers that fall within your business's specific zip code or surrounding areas. Since you only pay when somebody clicks on your ad, it's much more cost-effective than a huge radio or print spend, in which case you end up paying for advertising without any guarantees that your audience so much as looked at it. You can have the ads link to your website if you have one... but it'd be way better to...

- Build a Facebook page! If you're running Facebook ads already, there's no reason to link out to anything other than your own Facebook page. Also, please note: "Facebook page" =/= "Facebook profile!" This is kind of a new hot topic around the office these days because too many companies (and big ones, too!) are creating personal profiles as their companies and adding friends instead of building pages. Aside from going against Facebook's ToS agreement, it's just weird! Why would I want to be "friends" with my corner grocery/deli? I love it, but I wouldn't go to it for a shoulder to cry on. Facebook pages are 100% FREE and unintrusive - the people who choose to "become a fan" of your page want to hear from you!

- Organize "meetups" on meetup.com. You can create your own group to let fans know about big events, sales, or promotions you've having, or you can use the website to connect with users of groups who share a common interest related to your business (ex. "Queens Car Lovers" or "New York Shopaholics Anonymous").

- Offer giveaways through bloggers in the area. True, this option is easier for a small business that is at least within the limits of a major city, but if your product or service is worthwhile, people will travel a reasonable distance for it. If your small business operates online already - even better! You don't have to worry as much about geographic location, so you can just focus on blogs that appeal to your target market. The bloggers get to try out new products and promote website traffic while you and your business get free (minus the cost of your giveaway) exposure.

I feel that while we suggest these often, all stand repeating, as so many companies just aren't "getting it" yet. Until more business start to catch on to these basics, we're going to make sure that you know them well enough to at least remember them!

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