By Alyson Prigge
In today’s world, everything we need is at our fingertips. Our smart devices allow us to connect with one another in an intimate way that people have never been able to do before. One of the biggest connecting points, both personally and professionally, is through our social media platforms. Social media has been around for less than 20 years, but has become a pivotal factor in today’s marketing strategies for businesses both small and large.
And while some may disagree, social media can be just as beneficial for smaller businesses as it is for large, well-known corporations. Don’t get us wrong, large corporations benefit greatly by marketing through social media and their heavy advertising budgets. However, local businesses can use their social media platforms in ways that provide just as many benefits and intimate connection with a local audience in ways large companies fail to execute on.
One way that social media can really benefit a smaller business is through community engagement. Through the top platforms－Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn－businesses are able to have a dominant presence within the community if executed properly. They’re able to communicate with other local businesses, promote their events and specials, and can engage with their audience by offering contests and giveaways. The best thing a business can do is to be very active and very consistent with their social media profiles because their ability to consistently communicate with customers through messages, comments, and reviews will help build trust, create culture, and ultimately drive sales.
Facebook is a great platform to use for community engagement. This platform allows for businesses to create an event, which other users are able to share for even more people to see. You can also share posts from other local businesses, and tag them in your own posts – a great way to encourage local spending and camaraderie. Twitter and Instagram offer some similar features and are good for sharing and interacting, but Facebook has a broader audience in regards to age and has more features for interacting with other users.
Investing in the development of an online presence in the local area can make or break a small businesses because they are more likely to find success when they have pivotal support of the community. By being involved, businesses are better able to communicate with customers and can develop relationships with other businesses, too.
An advantage that small businesses have over large corporations is their ability to understand and interact with their customers. Everyday large corporations have thousands of comments, emails, and messages sent to them. They simply don’t allocate the time to engage or respond to every single one and this is where you can one up the competition. Smaller businesses are more equipped to engage with their customers online because they can handle the influx of messages in a more timely manner.
But, who cares if a business responds or not? Everyone! Both customers and businesses should care because it is a pivotal point for a relationship to begin! This personal interaction allows for customers to not only obtain more information, but it allows them to be more trusting of a business if they feel like the business cares, and wants the best for their customer.
Another great platform that is used more professionally than it is personally, is LinkedIn. LinkedIn in isn’t necessarily a platform used for advertising, but it is a great way to spread awareness about your business and can allow you to interact with other users. Primarily it is used to educate the public about what a business does and it provides a lot of career opportunities. Businesses many times will look at LinkedIn profiles when looking for future employees, so if you’re looking to hire soon, or want to attract top talent, consider investing in linkedin (their organic reach is the best of the social profiles and can be a place to flourish if your business is technical in any way or requires talented individuals. Linkedin is actually used for advertising but it currently has tremendous organic reach, perhaps we would should expand on that!
The biggest advantage of social media, for a business of any size, is that it is inexpensive and can help with lowering advertising costs.Creating a profile on almost any of the popular platforms is free and allows for companies to advertise through their accounts, rather than through external sources. Sending out Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram posts are free, and so is sharing other people’s posts. Users also have options to post stories to their profile as well, which is a post that only last for a 24 hour period. Many times, people will use their stories to promote goods or services and can tag those goods or services in them. All for free! There are extra advertising features that Facebook and LinkedIn offer, but users would have to pay varying amounts if they want specific advertising perks. But in general, being able to share posts, create events, promote specials, and interact with customers, is already marketing your business free of charge. Because your content is already being shared and seen by other users, that in itself is marketing your business or brand.
One thing a business should understand is that their company won’t just flourish and grow online overnight; it’s a process and it takes time. For long-term success, consistency, patience, and creativity is important. Investing in a long-term marketing strategy is the best approach when looking at the growth a business wants to achieve over time. Long-term marketing strategies are more likely to allow businesses to feel more established, more sustainable, and have a higher return on investment (ROI) in the 6 month to year long return.
Some strategies for long-term online success is through search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and of course, social media. Social media is a great tool because it can be used to interact with others, drive traffic back to your website, establish a reputation, and build trust with your customers. The great thing about social media is that it is flexible. So if a business morphs, rebrands, or changes in any way, you can edit the social media accounts to match.
For all small businesses out there, do yourself a favor and get online TODAY. Social media is one of the best marketing tools a business could have and will only continue to grow.