Tips on Social Media for Small Business: #1 Why You Need It

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Tia Fisher Freelance writer, Freelancer, mostly blogging for eModeration

Posted on October 11th 2012

Tips on Social Media for Small Business: #1 Why You Need It

ImageSocial media is now an essential part of the marketing mix

As the recent report from Econsultancy and Adobe has demonstrated, most companies now look at social media as a key part of their marketing and overall business strategies. 66% of digital marketers surveyed (working for companies with an annual turnover of more than £100m) agreed that ‘social media is integral to business strategy’, while 67% said that social media activity was ‘integral to their marketing mix’.

It seems to be even more important for smaller business organisations,  those with a turnover lower than £100m (SME or SMB).  A Manta survey of 600 small business owners across the United States indicates that 90% are actively engaged in social networking sites and 74% perceive social networking as valuable — if not more valuable — than networking in-person.  According to another recent analysis of more than 300 Chicago-based news sites, Facebook and Twitter drive more than half of all referred visits for small business sites, three times the percentage of larger sites.

As Lisa Barone states in her analysis of the Chicago study, it’s also a testament to the power of getting involved in your local community, online and off: if you’re taking the time to engage people on Facebook and to create content that is valuable and relevant to their needs, you have a great opportunity to significantly increase the traffic to your Web site.

 

Small businesses are struggling with social media

However, the news isn't all good.  The Manta survey revealed that 58% of surveyed owners said they struggle with promoting their Facebook pages — if they have a page at all. Recently, the UK's Guardian newspaper ran an article about how small businesses are struggling to cope with the challenges of social media. According to Business Network International (BNI)'s latest survey, 75% of business owners have been "put off" a particular company due to their poor use of social media.

It's at those smaller companies that this blog series about starting social media for small business is aimed.  I don't intend to focus on which content SMEs should be posting or how to boost SEO, but rather  how to get organised: who should be doing what, some useful tools, and some important safeguards.  If you are looking for good examples of style per channel and use of content though, here are some examples of some small businesses which are getting it right and winning customers through their social outreach.

 

Successful small business social media cases

Fallowfields Hotel runs the @Fallowfields UK Twitter account and regularly tweets out menu items, hotel news, and the head chef's guest tweets to its 25,000-plus followers, many of whom follow links through to the hotel website.

Southport Road Dental practice uses YouTube testimonial videos to reassure prospective patients: dentist David Hickey promotes the films via YouTube and Twitter and drives traffic through to the website.

Included in business coach Cath Daley's social media arsenal are her online blogs, linked to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, which target different user groups. "Blogs are a way of establishing your professional credibility and expertise to a wide audience while giving added value to my subscribers. Original online content raises brand awareness, improves SEO, and engages with existing and potential clients and referral partners. LinkedIn is the channel of choice for professionals and because of the nature of the business services I provide – communication and presentation skills training – more enquiries and referrals come from LinkedIn than any other platform, which I monitor via email."

Bookbinder Susan Green has an online shop at etsy.com, which she promotes primarily through Twitter - but also now, due to the visual appeal of her products, she is using Pinterest boards to help showcase her work.

 

Next posts in the series

The next posts look at Social Media Policy and Social Media Channel Ownership ... meantime, here's a great infographic from that Manta study mentioned earlier, demonstrating clearly the value of social media for  600 small business owners across the USA.

 

 

emoderation

Tia Fisher

Freelance writer, Freelancer, mostly blogging for eModeration

Freelance writer and social media enthusiast, frequently to be found blogging with with the social media management agency eModeration. You can find her on .

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Comments

Very cool chart - I will be using that in my next presentation! When I go to work for a new company, one of the first things I do is set up Social media sites. Not only is it expected of consumers, it is an easy way to get high ranking backlinks! In the last couple months I have really come to depend on social media sites like reddit.com and delicious to help build my backlinks. I really like the idea of video testimonials like South Road Dental - I read somewhere that youtube is now the second biggest search engine (and of course it is owned by Google!)

Very interesting your post and very cool, actually my next post on my blog I will write about in small business owners...

I want share with you a experience...:

Something I found in my experience in Europe (Sweden) in my country (Peru) and here in the U.S. in (Florida and Boston), is that YES the owners really "like" Social Media and the benefits, but do not listen to others and finally do what they want, it was in different fields, construction, restaurants, offices, etc..

For example I did a random in different accounts, Twitter and Facebook for small businesses, in the places that I mentioned above and found that if indeed "are" in SM, but his recent tweets or FB Post were some 2 years ago and other 1 year, then I wonder, are they really engaged and think SM helps them?

Was a behavior that I found.....

Best from Boston

Hi JC

Thanks for that.  If I've understood you correctly, you are making the point that all too frequently, social media spaces are set up (Twitter, facebook, Google+ et al) but then, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, neglected and allowed to stagnate, until tumbleweed is blowing through the pixels?

Yep.  As I pointed out on my company blog a while back, social media is for life, not just for Christmas. And having  Facebook page with no status updates for two months (and even worse, spam comments left unmoderated) is worse than not having one at all.

If you are going to market via social media you *have* to be prepared to dedicate some kind of round-the-clock resource to it - and not delegate it to your interns either.  A good point which I'll be covering in a later post in this series. 

Cheers

Tia

 

Tia ! Gracias for replay.. :)

I loved this part the "social media is for life and not for Christmas" actually I will copy as post ,what a very good quote !

Accounting, Human Resources, Support is for LIFE  in business NOW..and SOCIAL MEDIA too Sir !

Best Weekend..or how I say : #Tweetkend

JC

Every time I hear about Youtube, I would think it's just a word to most of the people in my nation...

Which nation is that Scarlet?

I like how you've included examples for each approach that support the success of each these businesses. Social media can only be as effective when you are being consistent with your monitoring and providing of useful information. But above that, you have got to make the first move to be seen online by your target audience. Today, it's about smart phones and tablets - you need to get your business online.

Very interesting information.  I hope you don't mind me sharing your chart and information on my site and social media sites.  It informs my prospects on exactly what I want them to know -  that you just can't put up a website, sign up for Social Media and expect an inflow of prospects, it takes time to create relationships.   Thank you,  I reposted on http://www.linkedin.com/marketechinteractive