How Critical is Social Media to a Small Business?

Big businesses with tons of resources, employees, and bigger marketing budgets are plentiful, but there are also 28 million small businesses across the U.S. which account for 54% of all sales. Another interesting fact is that big business has eliminated 4 million jobs since 1990, but small business has created 8 million. Basically, smaller companies are a vital part of what makes our country successful.

Owning a small business is also what gives people hope; following their dream, not relying on someone else to earn a living, and having the flexibility to create their own schedule.

With owning a small business, you are required to wear a lot of hats. You are the accountant, HR department, investment officer, marketing director and much more. As the one making decisions about online marketing, how much time should you delegate each day to social media?

In this article by Susan Friesen at Business2Community.com, she presents compelling reasons to allot a part of your day to connecting on social media:

Is Social Media Really Worth It For A Small Business?

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Image from business2community.com

Since time costs money to business owners, let’s look at the amount of time the average business owner spends on social media.

According to a survey by Vertical Response, about 43 percent of small businesses spend about 6 hours per week on social media.

Writing and posting a weekly blog post can take 1-3 hours to do. So this means it takes a full day to write, schedule, and post to social media plus write and post a blog article each week.

This is assuming you, the business owner would be doing everything required to fulfil these two marketing tasks. If you decide to hire someone to help, then the money you pay out needs to be the ROI factor as opposed to your time.

On the flip side let’s look at the advantages of social media for your business. In general, there are 5 benefits a business owner can count on if using social media marketing:

1. Relationship Building: Social media is an excellent way to build relationships with prospects. It provides an opportunity for multiple exposures to your fan base by using a mixture of information and calls to action.
2. Lead Generation: Add followers to your email marketing list by sharing links to downloadable freebies on your social media accounts. This allows you to send follow-up emails and information that can lead to sales.
3. Traffic Generation: SEO optimized blog posts can help your website rank higher for important keywords in the search engines. Plus, when you post blog articles, you can tell your social media followers about them and share the link to your blog to read more.
4. Consistency: Staying top of mind requires frequent marketing touches. With many people spending hours a day checking their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts on their smart phones, social media gives you lots of exposure to your target market.Sharing daily social media posts and weekly blog articles keeps the relationship with your customers strong.
5. Customer Service: Social media offers an easy way for customers to reach you with questions, problems, or complaints about your products and services.This gives you a chance to respond immediately to address the issue. Plus, giving the VIP treatment to customers in need shows that you are a company who cares and goes a long way towards building your reputation online.

Read more… Is Social Media Really Worth It For A Small Business?

This infographic is part of the Vertical Response survey that was mentioned in the above article. It offers some intriguing stats on how much time small businesses spend on social media. Amazing that 90% of all small businesses have a presence on Facebook:

Time spent on social media by small businesses
Infographic via Vertical Response

Due to the fact that most business owners fail to show an actual return on their investment when using social media, you can imagine the lack of faith and level of frustration. On one hand, you are spending precious time creating relationships that don’t result in any income. But on the other hand, you will be left in the dust as far as brand awareness by everyone else who is using social media.

So the question “how critical is social media to a small business?” isn’t easily answered. Figuring out a way to monetize your efforts will make the time spent worth it.  In this Inc.com post, author Carolyn M. Brown provides some tips for generating income through social media outlets:

How to Monetize Social Media | Inc.com

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Image from Inc.com

How to Monetize Social Media: Build Brand Awareness

The first step is to use traditional media or word-of-mouth advertising to drive awareness and traffic to your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin or Myspace pages, says Jamie Turner, author of How to Make Money with Social Media. Unless you already have a recognizable brand like Nike or Apple, your brand needs to develop social media magnetism before you can look to make any money. You also need to create circular momentum across many platforms when designing your social media campaign, says Turner. By providing multiple channels for users to talk with you, you let customers choose the channel that they are most comfortable with, he adds; and by doing that you increase the likelihood that they’ll connect with your brand in any number of ways.

How to Monetize Social Media: Engage Your Audience

Social media is about having a dialogue. When you have a dialogue with a customer or prospect, the communication is much more fulfilling and much more profitable, says Turner. The PETCO brand has developed a strong presence in social media. The pet store chain has a YouTube channel, its Facebook page generates a lot of discussions among pet owners, and there’s lots of activity on its PETCO Scoop blog, which has received hundreds of ‘likes’ and comments. PETCO’s customers are true pet lovers and treat their pets as part of the family. The company tries to keep conversation going by aiming Facebook and Twitter posts so that there’s an explicit question to answer, or at least a specific piece of information to which people can react. Industry experts stress that you have to know your community and know how to take part within that community and through that create great content or conversation that will raise awareness and increase sales.

Read the full post here…How to Monetize Social Media | Inc.com

The previous article is one of many that are out on the internet to help people use social media to their advantage. My advice is that your primary objective has to be listening to what people are saying, finding those that are unhappy with or looking for a service or product you supply, and offering your services instead in a way that doesn’t come across pushy.

This is not a task that can be done quickly, but by using social media as a search engine for new clients, it can bring in more traffic to your company, keep you in the front of your follower’s minds, and increase your brand exposure.

The following post How Critical is Social Media to a Small Business? was first seen on S&S Pro Services LLC

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