Social media bandwagon for small business

 “Your customers are on social media and if you’re not answering their online questions or engaging with them online, it’s like not answering your phone.” It’s not impossible for small businesses to engage on social media.

DON’T for a second think securing a spot on the social media bandwagon is the sole preserve of the medium- or large-size company.  Research shows that small businesses that use social media in a strategic and structured way can be just as successful. US-based SMB Group reports that the vast majority of small businesses are either already on the social media road or planning to get on it very soon.

SMB Group’s Laurie McCabe says that the most popular social media channels for small businesses are: Company Facebook pages, as well as posts on relevant Facebook groups. However, there are those small businesses that are also using industry-specific online social communities or posting comments on related blogs, LinkedIn forums or other industry-related discussion forums.

In a webinar run by Social Media Today giving small business tips on how to use social media (http://socialmediatoday.com/474138/audio-archive-social-media-small-business-tool), Laura says small businesses generally use social media to generate new leads, connect with people who aren’t customers, improve market awareness for the company, generate more website traffic, create more better interaction with customers and prospects and monitoring and enhancing company reputation.

“In some cases we are seeing small businesses use social media more than traditional media. The main challenges to getting value from social media though include lack of time to engage in social media, indecision on what social media tactics and strategies work best for their company and the difficulty in integrating social media with current marketing and sales efforts.”

Jason Stoddard from Firefly LED Lighting says personalizing the experience is vital for social media success. “You’re in business because you do at least one thing right. Leverage that thing and customers will sing your praises and spread the word. And the most trusted information source remains recommendations from people we know, followed by consumer opinions posted online and social media makes best use of this.”

As a starting point Jason recommends leveraging your current customers, friends and family. The social media process, as Jason sees it, starts with a great customer experience. Customers then share this with their friends and family, their recommendations are then rewarded and this leads to increased sales and customer loyalty.

Desk.com’s Matt Trifiro says if the purpose of marketing is to lead a customer to a sale then customer services is starting to play a gigantic role in marketing.  Matt says small businesses can reach out through social media channels to let their customers know they are not taken for granted. “Find your customer online and start talking to them.” This can be done both pro-actively by commenting on a milestone like a birthday or simply engaging in an online discussion with them on a public forum.

“Social media has completely changed things. It simply amplifies a good or bad experience and if you ignore it as a medium, you’re sending a message that you don’t care, or don’t get it. This great quote from Jeff Bezos illustrates my point: ‘If you make customers unhappy in the physical world they may each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6 000 friends’.”

Matt says if you’re worried about sharing the social media load among employees, don’t be. He encourages companies to adopt a good training programme and get all their staff involved in social media interaction with their customers. He suggests companies should have a formal internal programme for staff on how to respond to social media enquiries.

“Your customers are on social media and if you’re not answering their online questions or engaging with them online, it’s like not answering your phone.”

 Join the conversation & follow our discussions on marketing trends and issues on the Canada Travel Marketers LinkedIn page.

 

 

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