Social Media and Small Business

Small businesses are finally starting to figure out how to make social media work them.  Take Sprinkles, for example.  They were recently highlighted in this LA Times article for their smart use of Facebook:

"Each day on the website, Sprinkles announces a secret word, such as 'ganache,' or 'bunny,' or 'tropical,' or 'love,' and the first 25 or 50 people to show up at any of its five stores and whisper that word get a free cupcake."'On Facebook, we can ask our customers what's the next location they want,' Nelson said. 'What do they think of our next flavor? It's an amazing way to communicate with our fans.'"

This is exactly how small businesses (or even businesses in general) should be using the social media channels: (1) not just pushing information out to their fans or followers, but providing them with a benefit for "friending" or following them, (2) engaging them in dialogue and asking for their opinions, and (3) giving them a reason to come back to your page again and again (or keeping them from "hiding" your brand's updates from their news feeds.Social media channels allow small businesses, that can't afford a website or advertising to drive customers to a website, the opportunity to set up their own space in an existing community.  Increasingly, consumers are searching out their favorite brands on Facebook and businesses that are not there are missing the chance to connect with people (and all their friends).One local small businesses that is using social media well is The House (on Facebook with just over 1300 fans) and @TheHouseBar (on Twitter with 136 followers).  The House uses these channels to update fans/followers on changes to the menu/hours, scheduled events and when they reopened after some remodeling invited just its Facebook fans to check it out the day before the official reopening.  I don't think that The House even has an official website: on its Facebook page, the Twitter page is listed as its web address and on its Twitter page, the Facebook page is listed as its web address.I am sure there are several other local small businesses using social media in a smart way; please send me any examples and I will post them.Thank you, @DanaDB, for the LA Times article link.