Starting a small business is a hard task indeed, but you can use the power of technology to grow your business, your new popcorn shop, and turn it into a household name. The Internet is filled with many companies who have done this already and I want to teach you some ways that technology can be used to help you along the way. The big thing you hear now is social media, but a lot of you may be too scared to dip your foot in the digital pool. I hope to give you that proverbial push to get you into the shallow end. To do this, let's go over some of the many ways we can use technology to further your business:
Facebook & Twitter: I started with these first since they are the most widely known. Everyone says you must have a Facebook and Twitter account, but doesn't explain to you how to set them up or why you need to have them. You can Google tutorials on how to set each one of these accounts up. Both Facebook & Twitter can be used to communicate with your customers in real time about what is going on or will be happening at your business in the future. You can use these mediums to post pictures of your business, get your Website and e-mail address out there, post hours of operations, or simply share pictures of your recent batch of caramel corn being made. The main thing is to get out there and engage your customers to get them into your shop for first timers or return customers.
Foursquare: Is a location-based service that uses a person's GPS location from their smart phone and allows people to “Check In” at your business when they are near by (or just purchased some caramel corn). Foursquare is nice because you can go online to claim your business listing and then you can use Foursquare to offer deals from your business. This is a good way to get word-of-mouth advertising and to get people to come into your store. Customers can also leave tips & “To Dos” for fellow Foursquare users about what to get, what they like, and make recommendations on different products to try.
eNewsletters: eNewsletters are exactly what they sound like: electronic versions of paper newsletters. You can use these to keep customers in touch via e-mail about your shop's recent events, events around town you maybe attending/selling at, or upcoming new products or sales they maybe interested in. There are many different services you can pick from (Constant Contact, My Emma, etc.) that come with templates you can customize to fit your shop's look and feel.
I hope this has given you some insight into the world of digital and social media, and how you can best use it to help grow your new business. One last piece of advice I can give you is this: It's called social media for a reason. Get out there in the digital world and be social. I think you'll see that it will help you greatly expand your new business.