Note: This article originally appeared as a guest post for Grow Your Enterprise.
Never A Better Time
If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably, at some point, debated with yourself on whether or not to do social media. Depending on how your internal debate went, you may be doing some already. At Frontera Marketing Group, we consult with mostly small and medium-sized businesses and our clients often involve us in the debate. My answer is always the same. If only at a modest level, now is absolutely the time to incorporate social media into your marketing tool kit. Small business owners are developing social media profiles in greater numbers than ever before and reaping the rewards.
The Numbers Support It
I recently reviewed a survey called the Small Business Success Index that was sponsored by Network Solutions® and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. The survey covered internet marketing and social media in some detail and the responses reflected the growing trend. Following are a few of the key points regarding the use of the web and social media by small business.
- Over half (56%) now have websites, up from 46% a year ago.
- Nearly a third of them (31%) use social media, up from 24% a year ago and 12% two years ago.
- The most commonly used are Facebook (27%) and LinkedIn (18%).
- 62% feel social media requires no additional investment although 27% says it does.
- 63% feel it has improved customer loyalty.
- 71% feel their social media investment has either broken even or made a profit.
In short, small businesses are adopting social media in large numbers and the results have ranged, for the most part, from neutral to very positive.
Top 3 Reasons to Do It
You may be thinking that just because a lot of other businesses are doing social media doesn’t mean you should. To a degree, you’d be right. I’ll also throw in that it can be very time consuming, if you let it, and that it can sometimes be difficult to quantify the benefit. I’ll deal with those in the “How to Do It” section right after this. First, though, I’ll give you what we consider to be the top reasons why you should do it.
- Social Media is the great equalizer. Small and medium-sized businesses can create a big brand presence just like the big guys. It does not take a big budget so you can compete.
- It expands your reach. Social Media is global and enables you to touch a very broad audience. Even if your customer base is mostly local, this can be a big benefit from an SEO standpoint. Better search rankings are good for every business.
- It’s FREE! There is no fee to develop a presence on any of the big social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. Sure, it takes time, but it doesn’t have to take too much if you are efficient.
How to Do It
The best advice we can give you on how to do it is to start small and work into social media gradually. Which ones you should choose depends on the type of business you have and how much time you want to spend. Regardless of which ones you choose, here are some suggestions to get you started so you’ll get the most benefit for the smallest time investment.
- Do Your Homework: There are literally thousands of free resources on the internet to help you understand how to do social media at a basic level. Checking out a few tutorials can save you some missteps.
- Have a Plan: Set specific goals you hope to achieve and measure them. Some good examples are better customer interaction or increased website traffic.
- Be Efficient: There are a number of free tools out there to let you manage several accounts at once and simplify your efforts. One of our favorites is HootSuite which lets you manage Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all through a single interface.
- Keep it Manageable: We recommend picking no more than two or three of the top sites and limiting yourself to just those. Even one good one is sufficient.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to make a mistake or two. You’ll learn as you go and social media is, by its very nature, a fast moving and fairly forgiving medium. You should also feel free to stop by our website blog and ask questions or shoot us an email. We’re happy to talk social media and we give lots of free advice. Now go get social!