Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now, Pintrest. Once the hangout out of self-absorbed teenagers, social media has quietly evolved into a small business’s marketing dream.
If you are like a lot of small businesses out there that haven’t adopted a social media strategy just yet, I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking…
Does it even work? Should I even bother?
Well, let’s just put it this way: social media is quickly becoming one of the fastest and easiest ways for small businesses to engage with their customers. In fact, a recent poll from IBM shows that in the just the next 3-5 years, social media as a means of interacting with customers among businesses is expected to increase by up to 256%!
But, don’t just take my word for it, there are a myriad of other reasons your business should be using social media to connect with customers. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits social media can bring to your small business:
Build Relationships with Your Customers
Let me start off by saying that social media is not the place put your sales pitch out there and sell your product but rather, a place to connect with your customers. People use social media for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason is this: people are naturally curious creatures, they want to know what you are up to.
That’s right, according to Jeff Bullas, 40% of Twitter users rarely even post content. Instead, they use social media to consume content AND out of those who do, 92% share content that they find interesting.
This makes social media the perfect platform to keep customers in the loop about your business and foster lasting relationships for a long time to come.
Establish Your Business as an Authority
One of the main reasons I give my clients for taking part in social media and blogging is that it helps build authority, especially for local businesses.
Think about it: real estate agents, spas, salons, interior designers, auto shops, personal trainers… You each have something to offer that others can’t (or don’t have the time/knowledge to) do for themselves.
You have a very specialized knowledge base and yet, there are so many people out there competing to differentiate themselves as professionals in these fields.
Establishing a strong social media presence however, can certainly help your local business stand out. Especially if your business is just getting started or if you’re finding that you need to breathe new life into a business that is waning.
A solid social media strategy can take you from just another (insert your business here) to the local go-to biz in your neck of the woods
Maximize Your Promotions
It just isn’t enough to send out a few postcards or put a sign up in your shop window when you are offering promotions anymore. More people are looking towards social media as their means of finding out about local deals these days.
In fact, many businesses are using social media as a way to get people into their store and purchasing their products by either offering exclusive deals only available to their followers or as a means of supporting their direct marketing efforts.
A client of mine recently experienced the power of doing this as we posted their monthly direct mail marketing promo to FaceBook and Twitter a few times last month. Do you think people saw it and came into the shop to use it?
You bet and they were new clients at that.
With postal rates increasing year after year, direct marketing is becoming more expensive. Why not make the most out of your direct marketing campaigns by backing them up with social media?
Drive Traffic to Your Website
A lot of small business owners wonder why they need to take part in social media when they already have a website. I say, what good is your website if no one visits it, right?
According to Marketing Sherpa, the single most important factor in driving traffic to your website is organic traffic. That means that, if you don’t show up on the first page of Google for your keywords, well… Good luck.
After all, there’s only so many spots on the first page of Google and that leaves you playing the SEO game along with every other savvy business owner and their web guy. I’m here to tell you, there is a better way of getting traffic to your site even if you aren’t on the first or second placement for your keyword, much less the first page.
Take a look at the chart on Marketing Sherpa’s site if you haven’t already and you might notice something interesting: even though organic traffic accounts for a larger portion of site visits, traffic from social media converts at a higher rate. And, like paid traffic, it can be just as targeted but not as costly.
Stay on Top of Competitors
What’s the best way to find out what your competitors are doing? Ask them!
Of course you can’t just call them up on the phone or decide to just “pop in” and ask, that probably wouldn’t go over too well. However, any competitor that is going to give your business a run for your money is going to have a social media presence already. And, if they don’t, it’s just a matter of time until they do.
So, what’s the next best thing to do?
Set up that Twitter account or Facebook page and follow the leaders in your industry. Chances are, these guys are early adapters and they’re going to be the first to try out the newest technology and the first to offer their clients the newest products on the market.
By doing so, you’ll not only be able to offer your clients the newest products and services, but you’ll also be able to identify potential threats to your business, make better decisions and may even open up a few opportunities as well.
So, does social media even work? Should you even bother?
Well… I think the case for social media for your small business is strong, but you tell me: does your small business really need social media? I’d like to hear your comments.