In an increasingly competitive market, business owners are constantly on the lookout for a way to improve on current sales figures, boost the current rate of brand growth and beat out their competitors.
This is all good and well if you have significant cash flow but what small businesses often restricted by a minimal task force, severe time restrictions, and near nonexistent budgets?
The Big and the Small
There are very clear distinctions between the large corporations and the small businesses. One has the time, resources and money to grow whereas the other simply doesn’t but and it is a big but; there is one method of marketing requiring minimal time and minimal effort that could potentially provide a much needed boost.
I am of course referring to social media marketing although as I say that, I do not doubt that there are many small business owners possibly rolling their eyes back and emphasizing that they simply do not have the time to waste on such ludicrous sites. As recreational as they may seem; these “ludicrous sites” have changed the way we communicate. Facebook currently holds an estimated one billion members, Twitter holds nearly 300 million members with YouTube, LinkedIn and G+ also reaching similar figures. These sites are used once or even twice a day by their members and are now the first place consumers air their disdain or happiness over a product and service and even seek out recommendations and advice…they don’t seem quite so ludicrous now do they?
Social Media and Consumerism
The statistics speak for themselves; social media sites today hold increasing prominence over consumerism which is why, whatever the business size and whatever the industry, it is arguably foolish to not establish some sort of a presence within the social market.
For the small business owner, social media marketing may appear to be futile, after-all how could you possibly compete with Coca Cola and its sixty five million fans? Or with BBC News and the constant feeds it provides to its seven hundred and eight five thousand followers?
Understandably social media marketing is a daunting phenomenon but the small business owner should never rule itself out.
You don’t need to think big in order to achieve social success, simply target your audience and offer them just what they need; that really is all there is to it. By undertaking a little market research you can answer the crucial questions you will need before you begin your decent into the social world…
• What social site/s does my target audience favour?
• What does my target audience look for on social media?
• What sort of groups is my target audience likely to follow and why?
• Is my target audience regularly active on their social profiles?
By determining the answers to the above you can figure out a solid social strategy…
• A Facebook page that shares engaging content, interesting images and offers crucial advice and support?
• A Twitter page that offers exclusive deals, the latest pricing information and any discounts and offers?
• A YouTube channel that is informative and engaging
• A G+ or LinkedIn page offering relevant tools, assistance and guidance.
Any page/profile on any social media site takes minutes to set up and is free of charge and easy to use. No matter how restricted your time may be, as a small business owner you can benefit greatly by taking just 20 minutes out to appropriately create a presence on a social site which you should then link to your website, email signatures and any other marketing collateral you create. From there encourage staff, family members and friends to like and follow your social profile in a bid to start off those numbers and then make sure you set aside at least 10 minutes a day to market your business socially.
• Industry news
• New stories
• Advice and support guides
• Business/staff related news
• Local news
• Blog posts
• Engaging imagery and videos
• Product/Service offers and deals
By actively offering some or all of the above to your social followers you stand a better chance of ensuring that your profile achieves active engagement. It is all about offering something worthy and interesting so before you post, ask yourself; will my target audience like this? Will they share it and tell their friends about it?
Social Media and Google Search
A further plus point of social media marketing is the impact of social signals on the search algorithm. The topic itself is extensive and I often can find myself rambling on and on however, in a nutshell Google’s search algorithm has proven to take social ‘signals’ i.e. your presence and activeness on social sites, into account when delivering organic search results. Add to that the implementation of Facebook to Bing’s search and your business could, quite effortlessly improve its organic search results across two of the major search engines.
Once you have established clear angles and guidelines then just set your business a small target, it could be to receive a certain number of likes, shares and re-tweets a week or maybe one on one engagement with a potential or existing customer. Whatever it is and whatever you do, as long as you are active and realistic in your approach it doesn’t matter what size your business is; social media marketing can help give you a much needed boost.
Is your business as socially active as it can be?
Maria Ahmed is a search engine optimization consultant at full service design agency UC4. Working with hundreds of clients across the board; Maria thrives on keeping ahead of the game and ensuring that the results she gets are always the best. Maria on Google+