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Infographic: Small Business Insights from 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, it's time to start evaluating your business strategies moving into the new year. Many trends reigned supreme in the past 12 months, including an increased emphasis on mobile optimization, tailoring content for search engines and integrating strategies across social networks.

While many businesses stood out in 2014, there were three retailers who provided clear examples for companies looking to make the most of their business strategies. As you start examining your operations for the new year, look to these three types of retailers for inspiration.

The social-savvy restaurant

Restaurants were all about the social networks this year. From posting pictures of dishes on Instagram to encouraging visitors to check-in on Foursquare, these retailers were not shy about stressing social endeavors in 2014. One popular strategy adopted by these social-media conscious businesses is hosting viral contests for followers. For example, one restaurant developed a photo contest to raise awareness for a new menu, while others held photo contests around the holidays to generate interest among online visitors.

Another important way restaurants tailored their social networks was by creating and sharing hashtags relevant to the season, promotion or contest at hand. Don't forget to integrate these hashtags across all networks for the most effective results!

The viral-marketing clothing boutique

Taking advantage of trending topics is a great way to garner more online attention, but this method is even more effective when the trending topic is relevant to the industry at hand. For example, when the 2014 Victoria Secret Fashion Show was aired, business-savvy clothing boutiques jumped on the opportunity to start live tweeting the event. This was a great way to not only offer expert commentary on the fashion industry as a whole, but also compare products in the store and online to one of the most popular clothing retailers in the world.

Alternatively, one boutique experienced its 15 minutes of fame by channeling a different viral trend in 2014 - the trailer for the newest chapter of the "Star Wars" saga. Employees recreated one scene from the trailer and managed to get its top Instagram post of the year - and a wealth of new followers.

The up-close-and-personal market

Tailoring content for mobile devices allows small businesses to not only easily connect to consumers, but also provide more unique coupons to specific users. Some companies created their own apps that gave visitors offers to be redeemed in stores, while others used geotracking features to send notifications to nearby followers. As 2015 begins, search for more ways your mobile capabilities can assist your brand attract new buyers.

small business insights from 2014

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