Is Social Media Right for Small Business?
As a small business owner, you might think social media is just for large companies. Yet, if you want to compete in a certain market, cultivate loyal customers, and gain more sales for your business, you can’t afford NOT to take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other valuable social media outlets.
Here’s how social media can help you get known, get trusted, and get customers:
Social media provides additional outlets for you to promote your business. Not everyone will visit your website, but some of those who don’t might be on Twitter…or Facebook…or YouTube, looking for what you have to offer. If you’re not there, they won’t find you.
There are many types of information that social media users find interesting:
- Special offers
- Tips and tricks (how about a how-to video for YouTube?)
- Your opinions about your industry or field
- News and announcements
- Community events
- Links to useful information
- Tidbits about your personal life (within reason)
In short, you engage with potential customers by posting valuable information on social media platforms. This is how you target customers and take advantage of “the next generation of Word of Mouth” to grow your customer base.
As you start to provide this valuable information, something magical occurs: people begin to see you as a resource, an authority, an expert in your field. When that happens, you build trust in your abilities, talents, knowledge, and skills.
While you may have been able to do the same thing with TV ads, brochures, and press releases, one of the unique aspects of social media is that it is a many-to-many interaction. That is, when you post your valuable information, your followers can pass it on to others, so you have access to people you are not directly connected to.
The forwarding of your information also serves as an endorsement, building additional trust in your products, services, company, and brand.
When you are known and trusted, those who interact with you online are more likely to become customers. A recent Social Media Examiner post noted that the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Michael Stelzner reported: “Forty-eight percent of self-employed and small business owners saw improved sales as a direct result of their social media efforts.“
How does this happen? In three ways:
- 1. When you set up a profile on social media sites, you get to include the URL for your website, so the number of people visiting your site increases.
- 2. With more information online that includes your SEO keywords, you are more likely to be found in online searches.
- 3. When people become familiar with you through social media, they are “pre-sold” when they get to your website.
Social media reflects a new way of doing business that is relational rather than transactional. People don’t just want the product or service you have to offer. They want your personality, presence, and attention. Social media offers the opportunity to make this happen on a daily basis.
In addition, social media marketing works well in combination with more traditional methods such as e-mail marketing, events, press releases, and seminars.
And, it doesn’t have to be time-consuming, or even something you must do yourself. As the Social Media Examiner post reminds us, 75% of survey respondents spending as little as six hours per week on social media saw increased traffic. That’s less than one hour per day, and even less time for those companies that partner with external social media providers.
So, if you’re a small business owner, and you think social media is not for you, think again!