93% of the Inc 500 use at least one social media platform or tool

  • 94% of the Inc 500 use LinkedIn.
  • 80% of the Inc 500 use Facebook.
  • 79% of the Inc 500 use Twitter.

81% of US respondents indicated posts from their friends directly influenced their purchase decision.

6 ways we use social media marketing for small businesses

Your reputation is what you say about yourself and what others say about you. Every day customers are talking about your business online, whether on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google+, Facebook, blogs or elsewhere. This chatter has a direct impact on your revenue — it’s time you join the conversation.

Reputation Intelligence gives you enhanced control over your online presence by helping you correct online listings, respond to reviews, benchmark yourself against competitors and much more.

6 ways we use social media marketing for small businesses

  • Use social media marketing to sell your products and services

    Before major social media networks made the foray into e-commerce, the selling relationship for businesses looked like this: listen, help solve problems, and make the sale. With the rise of social selling, the opportunity to connect with potential customers during the research phase got much easier with social media monitoring and social media engagement tactics. These tactics changed the game for social media marketing for small business.

  • Large networks like Twitter can improve your customer relationships

    With 72% of people more likely to make a future purchase from a small business after they interact with them on Twitter, there’s no reason for companies not to be on Twitter. The key to finding success on social media is to be on the social network your customers are on—and with over 200 million active users, there’s a high chance many of your customers are on Twitter. Twitter can help your business build relationships with customers, and connect you with the businesses and communities you are interested in. Using features like advanced Twitter search and Twitter lists, building and improving customer relationships online is manageable even with a small team.

  • Social media marketing can drastically increase your reach

    Facebook and Twitter advertising have made it possible for companies to increase their reach through targeted ads and sponsored messaging. Social media marketing provides businesses with an opportunity to reach customers across the world—as opposed to a more traditional advertising medium such as a billboard, which is only visible to people on a particular route in a single city.

  • A LinkedIn business page can expand your professional network

    One of the most important social networks, where all businesses, big or small, should have a presence, is LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows businesses to provide authenticity and credibility of their brand through a business page that houses information covering the bases of who, what, and where of your business. It also allows small businesses to be in a space where professionals, potential investors, and customers are on. A LinkedIn company page is also a free marketing tool and if used correctly, can be an highly effective one.

  • Facebook Page can improve your business’s customer support

    Providing customer support can be expensive and time-consuming. But, with social media networks like Facebook, you are provided with an outlet to effectively solve customer problems. With the availability to post on your Facebook wall or send private messages, customers can connect directly to companies if and when they have a problem or feedback.

  • Use your social media presence to manage your brand’s online reputation

    Trust is an important element in obtaining customer loyalty, and one of the best ways to gain this trust is giving people easy online access to information about your company. Neglecting your social media presence is one way of losing the opportunity to gain new customers or nurture current relationships. Gain the trust of your current and potential customers by creating social media profiles like a LinkedIn company page, Facebook business Page, Twitter profile, or an Instagram account. This puts a voice (and a face) to your company, which will give people more incentive to trust your brand.

Implementing A Small Business Social Media Strategy: Introduction

A hundred years ago, most businesses were local brick-and-mortars that relied on door-to-door marketing to engage the public. As technology evolved, motion pictures, radio and television opened up new avenues for business marketing, eventually expanding to include direct mail, telemarketing, print advertising, trade shows and e-mail blasts. While these practices have proven successful over the years, many of today’s consumers now view them as intrusive, and have consequently become quite savvy at ignoring traditional marketing attempts.

Enter social media – a Web-based inbound approach to marketing that helps small businesses get found online. The term “social media” refers to various Web sites where people connect, interact and share online. Today, 62% of adults worldwide use some form of social media via computers, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, Internet-enabled TVs, handheld music players and e-readers.

Consider these statistics:

  • One billion people actively use Facebook every month
  • 500,000 people use Twitter every month
  • Google’s +1 button is used 2+ billion times each day
  • 5 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every hour
  • 3,600 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every hour

While social media began as a way to connect friends and family, it has become the norm for all types of businesses – from mom and pop restaurants to high-tech firms – to have a social media presence. The Burson-Marstellar Fortune 100 Social Statistics Report for 2012 shows that:

  • There are more than 10 million social mentions each month of Fortune 100 companies
  • 87% of Fortune 100 companies use social media (Twitter is the most popular)
  • 75% of Fortune 100 companies are on Facebook
  • 50% of Fortune 100 companies have a Google+ account
  • 25% of Fortune 100 companies have a Pinterest account
  • Each corporate YouTube channel averages 2 million views

You don’t have to be a Fortune 100 company to take advantage of social media, but as the statistics demonstrate, today’s businesses are actively using social media. Coupled with the sheer number of people who actively participate in online social communities, it becomes difficult for small businesses to defend a stance against joining the social media movement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have a small marketing budget. What can I do? +

This was a question that many small business owners had for us. They knew they needed to get involved with online marketing, but were afraid their budgets were holding them back. However, there are low or no cost social media tactics that a company can get started with, as long as they do their research and know where to ask for advice. Normally we don’t recommend doing this on your own, but instead seeking the help of a professional to identify which social outlets are the best for you and to develop a thorough marketing strategy. We emphasized that while it may seem easy to set up a Facebook or Twitter profile, it’s important to first understand the differences between these social networks and their users.

Q: Do I really need social media? +

This is the MOST commonly asked question. Many businesses think that they don’t really need this new media. After all they are just doing fine without it so far. But then I ask them: aren't you worried that you might miss on some new lead generation methods? You might miss on some very valuable customer connection and engagement opportunity? When brands worldwide – right from Fortune 500 to the small cafes around the corner are benefiting from it, aren't you willing to give it a thought that there might be some merit in it?

Getting involved in social media allows you to be more engaged with your current and potential clients. The word “transparency” was probably most cliché word used to describe social media some 3-4 years ago, but it’s very true. Social media allows companies to have a voice and to show the public that your company is willing to listen and gather unsolicited feedback. Social media also allows your brand to provide that extra customer service option outside of the traditional email and phone media.

So while you need to definitely look into if your target audience is on social media or not, you should not reject is outright without giving it a thought.

Q: Which is a better platform? Facebook or Twitter? +

What would you answer if you are asked “Is T-Shirt more appropriate or a formal shirt?” Well, you would say “depends on the occasion” right? Now apply the same principle. Whether Facebook is better or Twitter clearly depends on your objective, purpose, your target market and your user group. Both the platforms have their own merits, purpose, usage guidelines and benefits. You need to understand your marketing and communication objective and then choose an appropriate platform. You need to also consider that people’s behavior on Twitter is different than on Facebook. Twitter timeline moves faster than Facebook so you really need to post almost like real-time updates on Twitter. It provides the kind of immediacy. Whereas; on Facebook, you have better opportunity to have more in-depth conversation around a topic. Picture sharing is more appreciated on Facebook than Twitter. So I would say that if at all you have to choose, apply a simple test: Choose a platform where your audience spends more time 🙂

Q: Can I use LinkedIn for promotion of my business? +

I would not recommend this. LinkedIn as a platform is for connecting with individuals, getting in touch with professionals and experts and interacting with them. Mostly I have observed people using LinkedIn groups to promote their business. This is strict NO. Discussion Groups, as the name itself says, are for discussions. Use them to discuss interesting topics, share point of views and learn. Don’t dilute the purpose by commenting with product promotions. Do it ONLY IF you truly believe that your product offers the value in line with the discussion which is going on.

Q: Does Social Media work for B2B? +

Absolutely - Just that you need to use it in a different way. With B2B, use social media to build thought leadership, gather reviews and opinions and educate people. Don’t make the mistake of using social media as any other marketing campaign. Focus on two-way dialogue with your audience rather than one-way messaging. Be patient and you are sure to go long way with this.

Q: How do I create a viral campaign? +

Unfortunately there is no formula which can guarantee your campaign to go viral. Of course there are some common elements of a successful viral campaign.

Q: How to get more followers and fans? +

You will find numerous articles describing how to increase your fans and followers. But the first thing you need to remember with social media is that it is better to have 10 engaged followers than 100 non-engaged ones. Yes, numbers do matter to create an impact, but do not compromise on quality for the sake of quantity.

Having said that, you can achieve numbers as well as quality with well thought out strategy and plan. Sharing useful and insightful content, initiating meaningful dialogues, making it easy to find you on social media and offering exclusive content on social media are some of the ways which can help you get more engaged fans and followers. In case of Facebook, you can run Facebook ads to drive audience to your page. Do remember to have a concrete execution plan in place to keep the audience engaged. Otherwise, you are sure to lose them in no time.

Q: How much will social media cost? +

If I say social media does not cost of anything, I will be lying. Although most of the platforms are free, you do need to spend quality time for using those platforms effectively. So there is investment of time – which is not free :). There are paid options available like pay-per-click ads, promoted tweets etc, but you can very effectively use the platforms without spending money on those – just with your creativity. Make sure to keep your audience interested in being connected with you, value their connection and offer them something worth their attachment with you, get them involved in your brand – emotionally as well as through some gestures like discounts, exclusive offers etc.

Q: Will I be able to measure the ROI? +

Definitely yes! Don’t believe those who tell you that you cannot measure ROI on social media – they don’t know how to measure it. The ROI with social media can be both qualitative as well as quantitative. Here is one of my past articles on how to measure ROI with social media.

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