Tips to Help Small Businesses Utilize Social Media Marketing
October is small business month and we wanted to make a point of how important social media marketing is. Not only is it a cost-free marketing method but, it is also quickly becoming a way to better engage with your consumers, understand their needs and it can yield the largest return on investment.
Improve Customer Engagement and Increase Consumer Needs
Facebook and Twitter provide easy access for small businesses to engage with their customers, allowing for direct communication with consumers. The use of social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter help small businesses create better relationships between business and customers. Facebook’s platform provides opportunity for one-on-one conversations with customers and its large user base ensures each business can reach large groups of people with every post (Facebook, 2016). It is imperative that SMB’s begin to utilize social media as these applications help organizations to understand customer needs. (Lee, 2014). Facebook and Twitter have a massive user base, which affords small businesses the opportunity to reach new clients, build existing relationships, and connect with potential customers (McRea, 2012). Twitter’s application format provides direct communication between company and consumer, with its base function being built on conversation, it allows companies to understand user needs and quickly respond to consumer’s thoughts, questions, and concerns (Twitter, 2016). When customers can provide feedback regarding the products and businesses, they feel more engaged with the company. Feedback provides a sense of community between customer and businesses, enhancing customer engagement through communication (Mangold & Faulds, 2009).
Free Marketing: Increases Traffic and Brand Exposure
Traditional marketing and advertising is expensive and often out of the question for many small and medium businesses. Small and medium businesses can utilize Twitter and Facebook as a free form of marketing to help increase their website traffic and brand exposure. Richard Stelzner conducted a study with 3,800 SMB’s and found that social media generates more awareness in terms of business exposure (average increase of 85%) and increases traffic (average of a 69% increase). The main reason Facebook and Twitter are effective marketing tools for small businesses is because a post at any given time can achieve a network effect (due to Facebook and Twitter’s giant user base a post can generate millions of views). Dawn Fitch, owner of Pooka Pure and Simple uses Facebook and Twitter to promote her business, only spending one-to-two hours a day growing her social media accounts. She uses “flash sales” (sale on one product that is only available for a 30-minute timeframe) that are only advertised across social media. She has grown her company revenue over 35% and her customer base 20% over an 18 month period (McRea, 2012). Similar techniques can be used across different platforms, for example discounts on B2B solutions are often advertised across LinkedIn and Facebook, which means that these marketing techniques are not just limited to physical products.
There are many different ways to utilize social media: below are several links to help you improve your position on social media.
McRea, B. (2012). How social media saved my business Soci@lology. BlackWater Enterprise. 42, no. 8, 74-79.
Mangold, W. G., Faulds, D.J. (2009). Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix. Business Horizons, 52.4, 357-365.357365.10.1016/j.bushor.2009.03.002
Lee, I. (2014). Integrating social media into business practice, applications, management, and models. IGI Global. 277.