Small Business, Large Impact
Before a business can even attempt to create a Facebook page, launch a Twitter account or post photos to Pinterest they first have to understand what social media is and how its works.
They [SMB’s] don’t really know which sites they should be using and they don’t really have a strategy of what to do once they get there,” said Barone.
Many small businesses are metaphorically a small fish in a big social media pond. Larger companies and organizations have the resources to teach employees what social media is about, can afford expensive marketing tools, have the time to immediately reply to comments and questions and continually post new content on a variety of different sites.
Barone says this shouldn't be discouraging; no matter how small a business is they need social media. As a former small business owner, she knows how important is for these companies to have some social presence; as a free resource, these sites not only allow fans to see product and business updates when they aren't in-store, but can help build and expand a customer base.
Social media is one of the best ways to get in front of customers, share views and opinions and to help them understand not only what we did, but why we did it,” she said. “ It increases visibility, gives people something to find and it gives the search engines something to identify with.
As was mentioned many of these businesses don’t even know where to begin when developing a strategy, which is were companies such has Overit become useful.It helps SMB's develop marketing plans or road maps that outline what sites are most popular with their customer base, inexpensive tools they can use and determines what site will draw the most revenue and traffic.
Sometimes though having an understanding of social media isn't enough and Barone notes three key areas that businesses have to keep in mind.
1. Time Management
When working with a client, Barone says that one of the most common problems, besides not knowing what a particular site does, is not having time to monitor and be part of customer conversations. A common solution for this is setting aside a bit of time during the day, such as in the morning to post new content, such as daily in-store deals or a reminder about an upcoming event or product release so that fans have a chance to see it, comment, like and share the information during the day.
Baron also notes that third-party tools, suchas TweetDeck are good choices for the busy marketer. Not only are most of these tools inexpensive or free, but they help make this allotted social media time run more smoothly, as they can monitor a number of different tasks at once.
There are so many different sites and there’s so much opportunity, but each site is so different, she said. “[As a small business owner] you can’t be onsocial mediaall day so these tools help you post content quickly and easily.”
2. The Value of an Image
Images are cost effective, as they can be stock photos, business or customer submitted. They are also one of the most powerful social media tools a marketer can use.
When visiting social media sites, users often want to find information quickly and easilyas they are often bombarded with text in status updates, notes, tweets and comments, so an image can be a welcome change.
When you’re on Facebook you’re not there for an 800 word article, you’re there for content you can share quickly and for content that catches your eye,” said Barone.
Image platforms that can be used include sites such as Instagram and Pinterest, but there are also tools, such as infographics that allow marketers to tell customers about a product through a series of images and minimal text.
3. Analytics and Customer Trends
Making sure that information and other content is being posted and that the chosen social media channel is right for the business in question are both important parts of the small business social media road map, but these businesses also have to make sure content is engaging and connects with consumer trends.
As a social media site can give a customer insight into a company or brand, analytics can give that brand insight into the customer. Some sites such as Facebook and Pinterest have their own analytics tool, while other choices are Google Analytics and Socialbro for Twitter. In doing this, marketers can not only make sure they are meeting customer demand, but form more personal relationships with consumers and ensure that content is properly targeted.
Making a Social Impact
Marketing is no longer just for large business or large corporations. Small businesses can make an impact through social means and not have to worry about running over on a marketing budget. In being free or inexpensive, social media and third-party tools designed for these sites make it easy for even the smallest business to contend with its competition.
image courtesy of jeff Metzger (Shutterstock)