How it is…
First thoughts are that ALL businesses, regardless of size, should be using social media. It’s obvious….go out and shout about your product, use the platform to promote your product and spread your good business name, interact with your customers and reach new potential customers ….it’s bound to produce positive results, isn’t it? Apparently it’s not that simple. According to research, small and medium sized businesses who joined the flow of companies signing up to social media and began ‘tweeting’ and ‘posting’ have seen little or no results from their efforts. Large companies, however, continue to value this tool and integrate social media into their marketing mix. So whats going wrong???
Social media is very much about interaction and not so much about advertising what you want. It is user driven, so if the user has no interest in your posts then that is where the message will stop. If however, the posts are intriguing, inviting etc then this will trigger response from the user and interaction begins. This can be a very slow process which requires patience and regular posting, few small and medium sized businesses have the resources to commit to such relationship building but that is exactly what social media is about….relationship building. It builds brand loyalty which may not show in monetary terms on the bottom line instantly but customer retention and loyalty is often worth a great deal to businesses in the long term.
And then of course there is the other factor of larger companies being able to employ specialised team members who understand the latest tools available on the different social sites and are dedicated to this part of the business alone. Often in smaller companies, it is the owner who sets up the social media pages and writes the posts, thus not maximising the capability of the available tools to their full potential.
How it could be…
Not all companies have a budget dedicated to social media, in particular small businesses and non-profit companies fall into this category, but that doesn’t have to exclude them from reaping the potential benefits of social media sites. LinkedIn, for example, is a particularly good site where individuals post their professional profiles, this offers great potential for networking with like minded people and small companies and non-profit companies should take advantage of this facility when recruiting.
Small businesses are often operated by someone who has technical skills in a particular field but may not necessary be educated in social media. Chances are there is a young person close by, either a teenage son or daughter or even an employee, who is very comfortable with the ins and outs of social media sites….get them on side and start building meaningful relationships with your customers!
It is important to recognise how social media has changed. Gone are the days when people would check their social sites as a past time in the evening, maybe even just a couple of times a week, but with the development of android phones and tablets people are now constantly connected, they leave their home where they were connected to the WIFI and their 3G or 4G kicks in until they reach their place of work which will then connect them via WIFI. This instantaneous connection to the web gives people more opportunity to access their social sites, email, chat etc as and when they like, meaning that businesses need to be proactive and ready to respond and interact with their customers.
Increasingly I am viewing the social sites I belong to in a different light. Once over I would log in at any spare moment and check what friends and family are up to. Now however I often find myself looking beyond that. For instance one thing I have been drawn to is the way many large companies are increasing their reach of potential customers. Many of these large organisations post a competition to win a prize of sorts and all you have to do to enter is to ‘like’ their page, comment on the post then ‘share’ the post with friends. If only 5% of friends do this from each share the amount of visibility that one post would get is incredible and suddenly because those taking part in this are ‘liking’ the page the organisations reach has grown considerably too. This is an incredible easy way to grow the number of people who are listed on a companies data base at relatively low cost (just the give away prize, as it is an incentive it should be exactly that and not just a $50 voucher!). Very easily implemented by any business whatever the size. If you have any other ideas how small businesses can use social media effectively I would love to hear, clearly it is not as simple as creating a page and leaving it roll!
Every time I research another blog it never ceases to amaze me how technology is developing at an ever increasing rate, so it’s understandable that many of us find it difficult to keep up. What is being highlighted is how important it is to not get left behind! Keep sharing!
Casserly, M. (2013). Why small businesses are losing on social media. [Article] Forbes.com, 31-33 Forbes.com 4/17/2013 Page 31