Social media seems to be getting a bad reputation lately as some business owners see it as a distraction, hard to measure, time-consuming and returning little for the efforts put towards social channels. In fact, nothing can be further from the truth. Social media is a powerful tool for small businesses when used correctly. We’ll discuss why small businesses need to embrace social media, and then provide a few tips to make sure business owners are garnering the results they deserve.

Social media statistics

In the article, “A Few Reasons Why Social Media Matters” by Business 2 Community, they list off a few interesting statistics that go a long way to show the value of social media (be sure to read the whole article to get the full list):

  • 2/3 of U.S adults get their news from Social Media.
  • People are using Social Media to watch TV, connect with friends and family, research purchases, and shop.
  • 41% of consumers spending just 2 hours or less on Social media made at least $500 in purchases in the past 12 months.
  • 74% of consumers rely on Social Media for more information or reviews about the products/services they want to purchase.
  • 71% of consumers have an improved perception of brands when they see positive reviews on Social Media.
  • 50% of consumers made a purchase based on a recommendation made on Social Media.
  • Social Media Pages generally rank higher than websites in Search Engine results

Benefits that a small business can reap from being active on social media include:

  • Gaining customer insights – you can listen or actively engage with clients and prospects on social media.
  • Evens the playing field between small and large companies – size doesn’t matter on social media; it’s the message that matters. Small businesses can have a message that’s just as powerful and impactful as huge brands.
  • Increase brand awareness – small businesses can get their brand in front of as large of an audience as they’d like.
  • Builds brand advocates – social media is one of the few marketing vehicles that allows, even encourages, clients to become brand advocates, and makes it easy for them to be advocates.
  • Get competitor insights – social media is a great way to see how your small business stacks up against competitors, as you can see their updates and activities (and of course they can see yours).
  • You can advertise in a very targeted matter, and adjust as needed based on results. Most other marketing platforms require a significant amount of time to see measurement and even longer to change tactics if the current effort isn’t working.

Forbes provides a similar list in their article about the benefits of social media.

Small businesses must embrace social media

social mediaSmall businesses need to embrace social media, but to be effective, you need to be strategic in how you handle your social presence. Making social media work for your business takes planning and ongoing management. First, make sure your business is on the right social channels, based on your target audience and ideal client. Not all social channels are appropriate for all businesses. On the other hand, don’t overlook social channels that are a MUST for your business. If your products are visual in nature, don’t overlook Instagram or Pinterest. Do you provide services that more B2B?  Look at LinkedIn. B2C?  You should be on Facebook. Work with a small business marketing consultant to help you decide which channels are the best to be on for your business. Start with only a few and make sure that you have complete, professional, engaging profiles for each channel, including your company name, tagline, a clear description of your company, your logo and other visuals.

Plan how you’ll engage with each social platform

Who are you trying to reach?  What is your goal? How often should you post?  Consider creating a social media calendar to get you organized and keep you on track. Consider using Hootsuite or another social media management platform to keep all your accounts organized. Focus on your desired outcomes first (driving traffic to the site? Sales? Branding?). Figure out what you want your “voice” to be, and be consistent about it (Funny? Serious? Educational?). Understand your target audience and break out your messages based on segments within that audience. Find influencers online that will support your efforts. And then MEASURE. You can measure how social is driving traffic to your site through Google Analytics, but most platforms and social media management tools also have reporting within their platform. Use it to see what’s working and what’s not.

If your small business doesn’t have the bandwidth to execute social media the right way, find a marketing specialist to manage it for you. Businesses need to embrace social media to build their brand, drive traffic to their site, and gain more business.

Patty Hughes
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