Social Media – An Imperative for Small Business
What was once just an online destination to connect with friends and family, social media has become an integral part of successful marketing plans for companies that recognize its power to connect with, engage with and influence prospects in both B2C and B2B markets.
We see all the big brands on social – they’re everywhere and they’re exploiting the heck out of it. But did you know that
Not only that,
What might also surprise you is that “selling” isn’t their only motivation. [Source]
Along with those facts, let’s not forget one of the biggest benefits of social media is that it allows small businesses to compete on the same playing field as big business without needing their massive budgets.
Okay, social is a sound marketing investment, but where does one start?
According to DMR, there are ~700 social networks in the world. Now most of those would never be of interest to a business like yours, but there are still a lot of heavy weights out there which are probably good candidates for you – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube…
Should you be on them all? Maybe some day. But if you’re new to social media marketing, you need to find some early wins or you’ll quickly get frustrated and fail; so start walking before you run.
Social media may be “almost free”, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cakewalk. I highly recommend you start with just one or two at the most and master them before moving on to more.
Now, I don’t know your business so I can’t tell you absolutely which two to pick, but I’d bet money on:
Facebook is the largest and most popular of all social media outlets and serves a diverse demographic to which most businesses can relate. Facebook is so large, that if it was a country, it would be the 2nd largest country in the world – a close runner-up to China.
And if you include its recent acquisitions (Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger), it’s at 2.2 billion and growing!
As for demographics, check out the latest analysis of who’s active on Facebook. It’s not your teenybopper’s Facebook anymore!
Okay, so what about YOUR target market – is anyone there to which you can market your products or services? Let’s look at a few.
If you’re in the golf or publishing industry, things may be looking a bit grim for you right now. But check out the number of Facebook folks who LIKE what you do – over 14 million like golf and 40 million like newspapers! Things don’t look so bad now, do they?
The same is true for non-profits; check out the potential for animal rights organizations – there are 5 million caring animal lovers on Facebook from which you can garner support.
Who knew how many people would be interested in vintage clothing! And if your business is targeting expatriates, the opportunities are huge!
Facebook may not be YOUR cup of tea, but it’s a brewing pot of potential for your business, make no mistake about it!
Twitter is Two
Until recently I wouldn’t have put Twitter as the runner-up to Facebook because it wasn’t transparent enough about their users – i.e. your potential prospects.
You can’t control who follows you on Twitter (except for blocking the odd one here or there), so not knowing about them and what makes them tick is a problem.
But today that’s all changed. In its efforts to compete with the giant, Twitter has unlocked its analytics (once only available to advertisers) so we can now all see the demographics of our followers and make better marketing decisions based on real data (e.g. who to follow, what to post, when to post to maximize engagement, etc.)
The other thing I really like about Twitter is its “hands off” news feed policy. Unlike Facebook that only presents a small fraction of your posts to your fans (Would you believe as little as 1% of your fans see your posts in their news feed, unless you pay for more?), Twitter posts everything you publish in the feeds of your followers. However, don’t expect that to last forever.
Twitter is expected to adopt a “pay to play” policy to appease shareholders just as Facebook did when it went public. Facebook said it was doing it to improve the quality of a user’s news feed, but we all know it was more of a money grab.
But the cost of social media advertising is a small price to pay for the benefits these networks bring to small business. For the cost of one print ad in a newspaper or magazine, you can enjoy months of highly targeted promotions that will help you fill your sales funnel faster than you probably ever imagined.
If you’re not sure how to start to build your presence on Facebook or Twitter, or what you should do to maximize their potential for your business, ask me about my Learn to Fish Marketing Program. It will help kick start your social media so you can begin reeling in new clients, one tweet/post at a time.