Do you use a social media strategy to help promote your small business? There’s a 50/50 chance you aren’t. According to a recent study conducted and published by Hiscox, a business insurance specialty company, an astonishing number of small business owners stated they do not have a social media strategy for their business.
In fact 47%, almost half, of all small businesses do not use social media for any business purpose at all. When we know that a sound social media marketing strategy can help small businesses acquire additional business and customers and subsequently increase sales, that number is certainly surprising.
What’s even more surprising is that of the 53% of small business owners who do use a social media strategy for their business, 43% of them stated that it was not necessary for their business. Only 24% of those said they use social media only when they have the time. 14% of small business owners stated they do not know enough about social media to make it worthwhile. And only a minority 12% stated that social media marketing is a “must”, and they do it frequently.
Benefits of Social Media for Small Business
For those unfamiliar with how social media works or don’t know enough about it, what are the benefits of social media marketing? The benefits are many, but here are just a few of the most popular ones:
- Virtual word of mouth – Word of mouth is how many small businesses add to their clientele or customer base. Social media marketing is an excellent platform for small businesses to spread the word about their company by leveraging the viral aspect of online, electronic updates.
- Find and form strategic partnerships – Small business owners can join forces with other owners to accomplish a common goal. Social media platforms allow small business owners to connect and engage with other owners with common aspirations, goals and objectives and help each other to reach those goals by creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Improve PR – You are in charge of your small business’ public relations strategy. Use social media to help improve your public profile and online image. You can boost your overall image through social media outlets by making yourself available to your clients and prospects, responding to their comments and concerns quickly and professionally and answering their questions. Once your small business’ social profile is up, don’t just avoid your fans or ignore their requests as that will quickly tarnish your online image and you will likely lose your customer base.
- Free advertising – Ultimately, social media is free! All it takes is a little understanding of how each one works and a little time. You will need to experiment with all the various platforms and identify where your customers are.
Social Media You Should Be Using Now
Hopefully, you are part of the 53% of small business owners who utilize social media to grow your business. But even if you are part of the 47% who think social media has no purpose at all, but are willing to try, there are a few social media channels that are a “must” for any business, large or small. Here they are:
By far, Facebook has over 500 million active users worldwide. To bring that number more to home, that’s over half a billion. The potential to reach current, past, and potential customers on Facebook is astoundingly positive for any small business owner. Even if you are just looking to find more local neighborhood regulars, chances are they are on Facebook.
Set up a Facebook page for your small business and start making friends and followers. You can offer exclusive deals and promotions to your Facebook followers, and utilize the viral aspect of Facebook to get your business name in front of new customers.
Twitter also has hundreds of millions of active users. While on Facebook you can set up a “home base” page, Twitter is more of a micro-blogging site. That means you simply submit short updates (140 characters or less) to your Twitter followers.
Twitter can also be help you in a viral aspect. When you “tweet” something that your followers like, they will re-tweet it to their followers, and so on. This makes it a great way to reach a lot of people fast.
LinkedIn is more of a professional networking social site and acts more like a social “directory”. But with over 120 million professionals and individuals listed on LinkedIn, it is a priceless tool, especially if your small business is a B2B.
Set up your professional LinkedIn profile, and use the site to join groups and make other contacts. In addition to potentially finding clients and customers, your LinkedIn contacts could even help you when you are hiring new staff.
Your small business website should have a blog section. This is where you will tell your visitors more about your company in brief updates, usually about 300-500 words in length. Promote your upcoming sales. Highlight management and/or staff. Your blog is a keen way to get visitors to return, not to mention increasing your SEO profile and rank with major search engines.