It’s all about relationships in small business these days. We buy a car from the guy our neighbor recommended; we hire the plumber our sister’s boss used.  We read a book everyone on LinkedIn has recommended.  So finding ways to take business relationships beyond transactional is a sure-fire way to cement yourself in the minds of your customers.

Social media – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube – are ways to connect with people.  And if you use these tools to establish and enhance relationships with your audience, you’re heading in the right direction.

For instance:

  • The craft store owner who tweets her new customer, asking how the new stenciling project is coming along.
  • The business coach who shares a link for 10 bucks off of office supplies on a client’s Facebook wall.
  • The professional organizer who records a short video showing how to organize a home office in a back bedroom.
  • The tennis instructor who holds a Skype party during the US Open.

The possibilities are endless.

And here’s the deal.

They’re relevant.

They’re personal.  Rather than a “buy my stuff” way, every interaction connects with the audience,

They’re useful.  The posts are valuable to the reader.  Sometimes it’s a dollar savings, sometimes it’s informational or entertaining.

Low time investment.  A tweet or Facebook post takes a minute; the video, a bit longer, but actually saves time in the long run since the business owner answers a question she gets over and over again.  The Skype party takes place during an event the tennis instructor was going to watch anyway.

The very cool part about social media is that it provides a variety of ways to reach your customers on an intimate level, inexpensively and quickly.  People want to be treated as individuals, not numbers, and social media allows you to do just that.