Should Your Small Business Start Social Media Marketing?
Answer: Yes. If you're not engaging in social media marketing, your business is missing out on opportunities to engage with customers.
It’s 2017. Social media is officially not a fad. It’s the front page of the web, and any small business that's not marketing on social is losing an opportunity to get in front of potential customers.
According to the Pew Research Center's 2016 Social Media Update, about 86 percent of Americans currently use the internet regularly -- they're considered to be "online." And, of that, nearly 79 percent use Facebook -- as compared to the 32 percent of Americans who use Instagram, the 31 percent who use Pinterest, the 29 percent who use LinkedIn, and the 24 percent who use Twitter. This means that social media sites -- and Facebook, in particular -- present businesses with phenomenal opportunities to expand their reach, build their audiences, and grow their customer bases.
The bottom line is: This is where your customers are, so if you’re not engaging in social media marketing, then your care business is missing a prime opportunity to engage with your customer base.
Here are nine reasons your small business should be using social media for marketing:
- Social Media Is the New Word-of-Mouth
Most people who follow brands on social media tend to be more loyal to those brands – and, in this new online world, that loyalty translates to referrals, says Beth Lawton of Virginia-based Canoe Media Services. “A lot of word-of-mouth advertising and referrals have moved to social channels in the past decade, so it's increasingly important for businesses to stay top-of-mind among customers (and potential customers) in as many ways as they can,” Lawton says. “Social media can help them quickly and easily do that, as long as social media is built into their larger marketing plan as a brand-supportive medium.”
- A Forum to Show Your Expertise
Being active on social media allows you to join the online conversations and demonstrate your expertise, which is so important in today’s business world, says Diane Myer owner of Atlanta, GA-based iCre8t Results. “Your customers are already there talking about you without you and you want to be a part of that conversation,” she says. “You should be in that conversation and generating those leads because otherwise they are going to go to someone else who is already there.”
- It’s a Mobile, Mobile World
Everyone has a smartphone these days, and the use of mobile just continues to increase. Mobile indicates someone is more likely closer to making a decision. If they are posting something from their mobile device and you aren’t participating in that conversation or serving up sponsored ads on your social media channels, you are likely missing out on an opportunity to earn new business.
- Building Relationships
Through groups on Facebook or LinkedIn or lists and hashtags on Twitter, you can find places to insert yourself into conversations with clients and potential customers and begin to open the lines of communication. You’re building relationships with these individuals you normally wouldn’t be able to reach without the magic of social media. By being open and honest with your clients and potential customers on this medium, they’ll get to know you and be more apt to trust you with their kids, pets, parents or home.
- Real-Time Customer Service
You can offer real-time customer service by utilizing social media. A customer on social media looking for help in your business area will likely put a call out for that help on social media channels and you’ll be able to jump right in the conversation to provide that support for your customers through social. Imagine a family new to the neighborhood looking for recommendation on a local dog park, or a dad desperate to clean a stain from the living room rug. These are high-intent prospects, and if you were able to send them a quick message in real-time, you’ve provided a valuable service – and made a valuable impression.
- You Can Target by Demographic
Social media platforms like YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are not only inherently more visual, but also age defining. If you need to target a younger audience, you want to go where they are and these platforms are great for doing just that. With Facebook’s Local Awareness ad campaigns, you can target an ad to a specific distance around your business, to a specific demographic to really target the customer base you are trying to reach. Added bonus: those ads give you a lot of bang for only a few bucks.
- Cheaper Advertising That Really Pays Off
From Facebook’s Local Awareness ads to Twitter Ads, small businesses today have the opportunity to not only target their ads to the people in locations they want to reach, but can do so on a medium that serves up on whatever device they are using. And these campaigns don’t cost you a ton of money so you’re not locked into traditional advertising pricing. In most cases you choose how much you want to spend, how many people you want to reach and set the parameters. You can also monitor performance of these ads in real time so you know what’s working and what isn’t.
- Your Finger on the Pulse of What’s Happening
By simply monitoring what’s happening on social media in your industry you can see what your competitors are doing and get your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your market. Social media platforms today offer so many monitoring tools – from simple groups and lists to more involved programs – to help you can see what’s happening and what’s resonating with your social media followers. Not only does this give you an opportunity to engage, but it’s an easy way to keep tabs on your competition.
- Leveling the Playing Field
One of the beautiful things about social media for the small business is that it allows you to compete with larger companies. Through honing your voice and letting your personality and expertise shine on social media, you can really set yourself apart from some of the more cookie-cutter presence that some of the big businesses have on social.