At one point in time, it was hefty budgets and big marketing departments that won customers over. But that was then, and this is now, and now, it’s all about social media. And the rise of social media gives small businesses the perfect opportunity to level the playing field against their larger, more dominant competitors.
It might sound like an exaggeration to say that social media has taken the world by storm, but it’s really not that far from the truth, especially when you consider these startling statistics:
Click To TweetThis means that just within the past year, their number of users has grown by 25%.
- YouTube has approximately 1 billion users.
- Twitter claims half a billion users total, and of these, 200 million use Twitter on a routine basis.
- LinkedIn boasts 200 million users.
Because all of the above social media platforms are free, they give you access to an active and expansive user base, as the figures clearly indicate.
So from a marketing standpoint, why is social media so powerful? In the traditional world of marketing, there are gatekeepers and barriers that have to be passed, making it difficult to get anything accomplished, especially if you’re a small business. TV and magazine ads have an outrageous price tag that most small companies simply can’t afford. Direct mail demands that you purchase or build a list, and press releases must get the approval of an editor before they can be published.
With that in mind, as a small business, here’s what you should do: set up a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, YouTube Channel, etc. for your business. The more social media platforms you utilize, the more expansive your reach can be. It doesn’t matter what kind of small business you have, you can make any social media site work for you. All types of industries maintain social media, everything from car parts, medical supplies and even rehab centers.
Using social media networking strategically allows you to reap a bounty of benefits. It enables you to develop a community of like-minded individuals who value what your company offers. Not only that, but social media also gives you a place to promote your most valuable and essential website content. In addition, it gives you a medium to share relevant news with an ever-expanding audience of potential customers. Social media offers so many opportunities for customer engagement that some companies even hire social media managers to maintain their presence online. Additional benefits that social media provides small businesses are as follows:
- A Humanized Brand
People would rather do business with other people than just a brand itself. The new vine video app on Twitter gives businesses a great opportunity to show viewers their employees or their quirky upbeat culture by sharing a brief video clip with followers.
- A Way to Monitor Your Brand’s Reputation Online
Through the use of online reputation management tools, you can monitor the ways your brand is being mentioned on the internet and automatically engage in the conversation. This can go a long way in protecting how your brand is seen, especially if negative feedback is being voiced.
- Credibility as an Expert in Your Industry
Using social media channels to share relevant valuable content with potential customers positions you as an expert in your field. What’s more: it helps you become the “go-to” person and enables you to promote your brand’s presence on the internet.
- A Rise in Search Engine Optimization
The latest updates to search engine algorithms will list newer content towards the top of results pages from a search. Therefore, if you create more content more often, people are more likely to come across your brand and awareness of your brand will spread.
So we know that social media has many advantages to offer small businesses. If you want to get started putting those advantages to work for you, here are a few suggestions to try:
1. Start with the Customer in Mind
As you decide what platform(s) you want to use, keep the demographics of your customer base in mind. For instance, a younger, tech-savvy clientele might be more inclined to use Twitter, whereas an older group might not be. Know your customers, and proceed from there.
2. Use a Consistent Tone
The tone used to promote your business on a social media platform should be consistent with the tone used on your company website. Remember that you are using social networking to promote an image, and you want that image to be consistent with all the ways your company is represented.
3. Update Regularly
More is not necessarily better, but updating frequently ensures that your customers won’t lose interest.
4. Be Personal
Respond to individual questions and give customers the behind-the-scenes scoop on your business. People appreciate interaction, and doing this helps you earn and retain followers.
5. Offer Rewards
Rewards give people motivation to show interest in your business. You could give discounts or coupons for people who like your business on Facebook, or reward them if they post pictures of themselves using your product. By showing customer appreciation, you can effectively expand your customer base.
It’s easy to see that social media provides a wealth of opportunities to market your small business. And with the right approach and the right strategies in place, you can leverage the field to be in your favor and start playing a winning game.
Thinking of venturing into small business territory? How are you planning to “humanize” your brand? Share below!
Thanks to this week’s expert contributor Courtney Gordner. To find out more about her we invite you to visit her site TalkViral.com!