Social Media Benefits for Small Businesses

Posted by on 19th, Jan, 2012

At it’s heart, social media is designed for conversation. It allows us to connect with friends, family and work colleagues via the web. More recently, social networks have become an ideal place for marketers and businesses to keep up to date with the latest industry trends; hopefully helping build strong working relationships with other businesses in the industry. Twitter in particular has become a great source of news and more importantly social media as a whole has become an ideal place for small businesses to promote their business and advertise their products.

Contrary to popular belief, you and your business don’t need to be at the pinnacle of your industry to be able to send out your message to the masses. There are numerous ways in which to enhance your social presence and by simply being a part of every social network, you’re increasing your reach in the social media realm.

Big businesses have the social marketing channels nailed and are gaining brand awareness, regular income and repeated sales as a result. Small businesses tend to have a smaller, overloaded workforce therefore may struggle to have the resource (time) to deploy these marketing tactics. For those who are toying with the idea of social media marketing (SMM), here is a brief run through the benefits of each social network and tips about how to promote yourself better online via the social spectrum.

There are too many individual social networks to do an analysis on them all, so here I have listed the most important ones which you should be registering with before starting out on your social media marketing campaign.

Facebook

Main Benefits

[benefit_list]

    [benefit]Use ‘like’ gates - Like gates block entry to your page without first ‘liking’ it. This ensures a solid number of subscribers to your page.[/benefit]
    [benefit]Lead generation - Targeted marketing can generate leads by promoting your business online to members of your page who already ‘like’ it.[/benefit]
    [benefit]Audience numbers - Facebook is the most popular of the social networks and finding people to like and follow your company will be an easy task. [/benefit]

[/benefit_list]

Facebook has around 800 million users worldwide and is the king of social media in terms of numbers. The average person has around 1,000 friends, which would be impossible in the real world, but it shows the power of reach that connecting with these people provides. Every time you or your business publishes a post on Facebook, every one of your friends will be able see it. That means more eyes to view your advert/product, and it only takes one of those 1,000 friends to post it on their page and then their 1,000 friends also see it and so on. Meaning that potentially – for arguments sake we’ll say that everyone has 1,000 friends – whenever you make a post public you are showing it to 1,000 friends who have 1,000 friends; which equates to 1 million users over two friend reach scope levels. If those million users showed it to all their friends then that would mean that every single user on facebook will have seen your post, and if your post was an innovative product, we can only speculate as to how profitable that would be for business. This would rarely happen, but to know that you have the potential to show your products and services to over 800 million people over only three friend levels. This should be incentive enough to join the revolution and start promoting your services to your potential customers.

Twitter

Main Benefits

[benefit_list]

    [benefit]Regular news - News tends to break on Twitter before any other platform. Be the first to show industry trends and watch your followers list sky rocket[/benefit]
    [benefit]Blog promotion - Twitter is excellent for letting the world know about your latest blog post. Keep eyes focussed on your products.[/benefit]
    [benefit]Build a community - Tactical Tweets/re-Tweets can gain following from influential people within the industry. Get a Tweet from them and their avid followers will trust their instinct and add you to their followers list.[/benefit]

[/benefit_list]

Twitter, with it’s excellent usability and easy ‘follow’ features has become one of the leading players in the social media spectrum. Advertisers and marketers have seen this platform as a gold mine and are utilising it’s features in a tactical way to enhance SEO on their websites. Gaining popularity on Twitter is ultimately about usage. If you are a regular reader and commenter on blog posts, Tweet about it! Create your own content and Tweet about it. If someone Tweets about an article which you like, re-Tweet it or reply to the Tweet. Regular engagement in the Twitter sphere will see your followers list grow and grow. You’ll find that you gain more traffic to your website as a result and more traffic means more subscribers and sales. By tallying up numerous subscribers, you can offer them discounts on products for being a valued member or offer giveaways to gain their trust. Gaining trust will ensure that whenever they decide to buy a product similar to what you’re offering, it will be your site where they purchase as they trust it because of your social media interactions.

Google+

Main Benefits

[benefit_list]

    [benefit]Manipulate search - Google’s emphasis on social signals means that regular interaction with your Google+ account will equate to a stronger ranking for your business website.[/benefit]
    [benefit]Multiple circles - You can target particular posts to be viewed by certain circles; keeping your private posts private and your work posts profitable.[/benefit]
    [benefit]Get in early - While Google+ is in it’s infancy, it is advisable to act now to promote your business so that it is in a prime position for when the rest of the world catches on.[/benefit]

[/benefit_list]

The social media benefits available from the mother of search are incredible: Google+ is the fastest growing social network that has ever existed. It grew from 0 to 50 million users in only 88 days! It took the masters of social, Facebook, 1325 days to achieve the same number of users from zero. Google+ is growing 15 times faster than Facebook did in it’s infancy which just shows the potential that this network possesses with regards to social reach. Currently there are around 90 million users of Google+ and with estimates set to be well over 150 million by the end of the year, there’s no surprise that marketers are creating their very own strategies to positively utilise the Google+ phenomenon. With Google’s new integration of search and Google+ to create Search Plus Your World, there are new techniques that need to be deployed to rank on the new searches. With added areas to promote, the need to rank on the new serps has become a frenzy of activity in the Google+ world. The time to act is now to anchor yourself within the new prime spots within searches. Building up a strong profile for your business while the platform is in it’s primary stage will work wonders for your reach when the rest of the social users decide to move over to Google+ alongside the other social giants.

LinkedIn

Main Benefits

[benefit_list]

    [benefit]Business to business - LinkedIn is a social network for business therefore from a business point of view, it is one of, if not THE network of choice for marketing.[/benefit]
    [benefit]Appear in search - The strength that LinkedIn possesses in search is huge. Type in a search query for any contact you might know and you can guarantee that if they have a LinkedIn profile, it will appear on the first page of Google.[/benefit]
    [benefit]Join the industry - Become a member of the group for your industry and recognise yourself as an expert resource on topics that customers need help with to gain trust.[/benefit]

[/benefit_list]

With around 140 million users worldwide, LinkedIn offers small businesses the chance to rub shoulders with the bigger industry businesses. Industrial social groups make it easy for small businesses to interact and build friendships within their local area, industry and businesses around their own size. Being able to connect with a vast array of businesses ensures that your own business can build partnerships and gain reputation for itself. Users who connect to LinkedIn are often looking for work that needs to be completed. It is essentially an online business directory, but rather than seeing a biased advertisement from your company, potential clientele get to see businesses on a level playing field and can make their own judgement of who to employ through the social interaction and friendliness that each company offer. By regularly offering advice with solutions to industry problems, you will be gaining trust around the company brand and in turn will generate more enquiries which will turn into sales. LinkedIn is an essential source of records and offers connections that should not be disregarded.

YouTube

Main Benefits

[benefit_list]

    [benefit]Brand your channel - Creating a YouTube channel is free and you can personalise it to portray the brand image you want your business to perceive.[/benefit]
    [benefit]Offer helpful advice - Create videos that answer industry questions. Prove that you’re an expert source and gain trust along the way.[/benefit]
    [benefit]Build reputation - We all know how viral a YouTube video can get. It’s not all about dancing cats etc. A concisely executed tutorial for instance can be viewed by hundreds of thousands even millions.[/benefit]

[/benefit_list]

YouTube in my opinion is the most overlooked social network of them all. Too many businesses rely solely on written content to market their business. As part of your SEO strategy, you should be creating and publishing YouTube videos designed to teach and help the industry you’re aiming at. After all, who’s going to sit there and read a thousand words of text when they can watch a simple 4 minute video? Videos allow you to bridge the gap between business and customer to bring a friendlier, more helpful service to clients via the video screen. Once you have recorded your video, you can edit it to get it optimised for the specific point you’re looking to promote. You can add visual imagery in the form of graphs etc. to illustrate your point yet further. The opportunities are endless for video promotion and one good video that goes viral can boost your revenue in ways you could hardly imagine.

Social media benefits in a nutshell…

This is only a small list of the posssible social media platforms available, but with any social campaign, the key to it’s success is content. This might seem a bit surreal, but creating regular content will mean that you’ll never be struggling for something to post or Tweet about. Small businesses don’t know too much about this but bigger businesses have in-house content creators or out-source the content to companies who offer a copywriting service. Big businesses are regularly creating and adding videos via YouTube, blogs, commenting on posts and offering competitions etc. Even making your own images and posting them to Flickr is a way to increase your social presence.

The equation you need to swim with the big fish…

Regularly pushing out content ensures for regular updates at social level which will create more page views and essentially generate more leads: creating Goals!

It’s free to set up your social profiles!!

Marketing is renowned for being one of the most expensive campaigns a business can undertake. By making your marketing strategy a social one, you cut out the costs of creating these campaigns. The only cost is time! But the ROI you can achieve for your time is well worth the effort. If you struggle to find the time, we strongly advise you outsource the work to professionals who can manage your blog and keep you socially active. The more content you push out, the more exposure you will gain via your social channels and in return will gain trust and recognition. A formula for success.

Want to spend a bit more? Advertise and analyse.

Most of these social networks have space for advertisements. Q) Where else can a small business advertise their products to millions of users at a relatively low cost? A) Nowhere!

Platforms like the Facebook advertising for instance offer specialised advert targeting. Twinned with Facebook’s steady stream of users, this equates to advertising gold! You can fine-tune your campaign to target individuals and show your adverts only to people from a certain area; at a certain time; of a certain age and a particular gender. This is the only possible way (to date) where you can zone-in so much on particular clientele and advertise your services to such a small-knit community – which will actually have a lot of members considering the detailed targeting.

Analytics can be the deciding factor as to whether your campaign was deemed a success or a failure.

Analysing your advertising campaigns gives you the flexibilty to change what might not be working and to focus on the areas that are and it allows you to pull the plug whenever you like. The analytics system for Facebook’s advertising is brilliant as you use data to target your preferred audience, can set-up a PPC campaign, you have no minimum spend per day like some sites do, you can easily pay via PayPal, you can check the click-through rate over time and can alter your campaign to react to that.

Taking advantage of the social spectrum has never been so important for small businesses. Ensure you’re not left in the cold as your competitors explore these avenues. Stay ahead of the game by creating content to enhance your social presence and turn that presence into profit!

Join in the conversation and let us know where your social campaign is taking you…

Adam.

Adam Veitch

Posted By Adam Veitch

Adam is our Project Manager - responsible for day-to-day client communication and seamless project delivery. Follow him on Twitter @adamveitch_tone or on Google+ Adam Veitch