Social media marketing offers a lot of compelling benefits for all types of organizations. However, a lot of small-business owners assume they can’t achieve the same advantages as larger competitors, or worry about the negative implications of making a mistake or inviting public scrutiny.
As you assess the opportunities and risks of establishing or growing your social presence, consider the following 8 top social media marketing benefits for small business!
Why do you have a street sign in front of your building? To capture attention and interest from people who drive by your business. In much the same way, your presence on a social media channel is like a street sign in that it creates a digital footprint that online users may notice. Even better, your social presence gives people in your marketplace the chance to engage you in a risk-free, stress-free (sometimes), convenient and comfortable way. If you aren’t on social media, you have a distinct disadvantage relative to the 94 percent of small firms that have accounts.
Use your social media account profiles to project the image you want for your brand. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google-Plus are just some of the prominent platforms available to you. Select the right ones based on your target market, resources, capabilities and available features. Place professional background and profile pictures, along with high-impact items about your business, in your page or profile bio.
Prospects and customers are just one category of stakeholders you can target with your social media channels. Each channel offers access to different audiences and interests. Most have some features that enable you to facilitate local networking with potential partners, agencies and community officials that can support your business.
LinkedIn, for instance, allows you to build a business page and a personal profile through which you can connect with other local organizations and professionals. City Council members, local business leaders, and civic organizations and members are examples of people you could engage on LinkedIn. Twitter is another great platform for local connections. Twitter typically recommends profiles to follow based on your geographic location.
As more people become familiar with your company and its social activities, you have a larger pool of community members who can drive prospects toward your business.
Small companies usually can’t compete with large entities on price. Therefore, you have to rely on product quality, exceptional service, community support and other points of differentiation to earn business.
There are times, however, when it is important to attract new customers, reward loyal ones and generate revenue from price-conscious buyers. Exclusive promotions on a particular social medium allow you to accomplish any of these objectives. You can deliver customer promotions in the form of coupons or online promo codes, which helps you attract deal-hunters without the need to offer discounts to everyone.
Don’t assume that the scope of a social media audience prohibits you from targeting people in your local area. I noted an example of geographic connections via Twitter. In fact, most top social media channels offer some options for small businesses interested in geo-targeting.
Using hashtags, you can call attention to messages targeting your local market. For instance, a provider in Cincinnati could add “#Cincinnati” or “#Cincy” in a post to call attention to users in that community. This approach is also beneficial for regional or multi-location operators that want to target people in just one location with a message.
Snapchat offers small companies the ability to create and distribute branded filters within a selected geographic radius. You can brand a filter for as little as $10, and limit costs by only targeting people in one town or metro.
Affordability and Cost Control
The Snapchat filter example is just one prime illustration of the cost benefits of social media marketing for small business. Affordability and cost control advantages are pervasive across social channels relative to traditional media.
The affordability begins with organic-messaging capabilities. All major channels allow you to create accounts and post messages for free. This approach takes time, which is a limited resource for a small-business operator, and discipline. However, it is a good way to begin to leverage and learn each channel’s features.
After you get a sense of your audience characteristics and ideal messages strategies, look to expand your reach through paid ads or sponsored posts. Top channels all offer these opportunities. Though the process varies, you can typically create a campaign to target users with particular demographic or behavioral traits, and have complete control over you daily and total campaign budgets.
Plus, you can quickly adapt your social media campaigns to focus on those channels and messages that achieve strong return on investment. Contrast this ability with traditional broadcast and print media, which don’t allow for effective ROI evaluations to campaign execution is complete.
There were 2.8 billion worldwide social media users in 2017. More importantly, these users have an interest and desire in following brands they know, like and trust on social media.
Ninety-five percent of online adults between 18 and 34 are likely to follow a brand via social networks. These young consumers also have an affinity for supporting local companies and promoting businesses that contribute to the community and environment.
Social media is great for lead generation. However, the process works much differently than it does through traditional outbound methods. Social selling involves building a presence, making genuine connections, earning trust, building rapport and then guiding people toward your online resources and content. Then, further down the line, your sales reps enter the picture to nurture and close.
Relative to outbound, social media has a 100 percent higher lead-to-close rate. Think about the strategic and sometimes manipulate ways brands attract leads through outbound marketing. If you engage in social media marketing the right way, you become a partner for a user as he or she progresses through the buyer journey. Thus, by the time a lead is generated, the prospect is interested and ready to explore problem-solving remedies.
Your customers also have a high propensity for sharing news about positive experiences with others on social media. Thus, you can earn powerful referral leads by consistently delivering top-quality customer experiences.
Efficient Customer Service
Social media is an extremely important opportunity for small businesses looking to optimize customer service. Customers get frustrated trying to resolve issues on the phone, they don’t want to wait for email and they don’t want the inconvenience of a trip to your physical location. Thus, effective social media listening allows you to promptly address service issues.
Don’t let the potential for public complaints scare you away from using social media. Being present gives you the chance to resolve a problem you might not have learned about otherwise. Plus, when you impress a customer on social media with a great service experience, 71 percent of the time they share that experience with their followers.
Use HootSuite or another social media management tool to monitor mentions of your brand across all channels, and to monitor conversations related to relevant phrases or hashtags.
These are some of the most important social media marketing benefits for small business. You already have a significant disadvantage relative to large companies with bigger budgets, so you can’t afford to ignore the level playing field accessible to you on social media.
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