You don't need to be a big name brand with a six figure marketing budget to make social media work. In fact, recent research has shown that small businesses are more likely to succeed within the social media arena than their supposedly all-powerful, 'jump in feet first' corporate counterparts.
Social media plays an important role in online marketing and is an ideal medium through which your Small to Medium Enterprise can acquire, nurture and increase leads. It also allows you to engage with your customer base, while expanding it through referrals and recommendations. Big business tends not to "get it", preferring a bull in a china shop approach and forgetting the key word in all of this: social.
So, what makes an SME thrive on social media?
1. Building customer relationships
Not only will you find many of your existing customers are already participating in social media, but they'll also be talking about your products or services. A whopping great 43% of online consumers are 'liking' or following the brands they use on social networks. This gives your team a great opportunity to actively engage with your market, announce offers and address grievances. Big companies can’t respond to individuals in the same way, even with an enormous customer services department.
2. Adapting and improving
Once engaged with an audience, the feedback you receive can be a valuable tool in helping to develop your products and services. Social media isn't a one-way street and uncovering the suggestions your customers are making has never been so easy. Acting upon ideas that the conversation throws up demonstrates your willingness to listen, strengthening your position within the market and ultimately improving your brand. With 87.3% of UK consumers reading online reviews before making a purchase, your interactions within the social media landscape can help to ensure that your reviews are always good. The hulking great corporations can’t react to feedback as quickly or nimbly as you can.
3. Increasing web traffic
Become a hub for those whose interests lie in your particular offering and area of expertise. Providing relevant and killer content through blogging and tweets etc will spread your name far and wide and dramatically increase the level of traffic to your website. Businesses with 300 to 1,000 followers on Twitter are getting five times more site visits than those with fewer than 25. More importantly, this will be traffic that is, in one way or another, eager to find out more about the services you offer or products you supply.
4. Winning new customers
The result of all this buzz that social media is creating around your brand is more leads which, if effectively nurtured through the application of inbound marketing techniques, will result in greater revenue. UK companies that successfully gained new customers through social networking rose to 41% in 2011, 8% up from the previous year's figure. Globally the figure has seen a 7% rise for the same period.
5. Keeping up with the Joneses
With 40% of UK SMEs using social media to market their business, chances are your competition is already engaged in social media online marketing and improving their web traffic, SERPs and lead generation. This is as good an incentive as any to do it bigger and better than them. It is also an excellent way to keep abreast of your competitors’ activities as well as the market in general.
So don't get left behind. Make sure you "get it" and become another of the SME social media success stories.
Don't just bombard your audience with promotional messages*. Provide compelling content. Engage. Be original. And remember, 57% of SMEs say social media has had a beneficial effect upon their business.
*What everybody else refers to as spam.