One good proof to the claim that time flies fast is the way social media evolved and how it penetrated online strategies employed in the business sector, especially for small enterprises. Social networking sites are no more limited to personal individual use, as they proactively made themselves available to businesses and professionals.
Here are the ways social media revolutionized the playing field for small businesses:
1. It improved marketing strategies.
The advent of social media gave small businesses a wealth of opportunities to advertise and communicate with customers faster and easier. It made the Internet the perfect venue to launch products or services without spending too much on tangible necessities like space and equipment.
Also, subscribing to social media enabled global brands to interact with customers anywhere in the world, making their services more personal and effective. On the other side of the marketing coin, these sites also made it possible for customers to interact with the people behind the brands they patronize. Thus, they are able to post comments and recommendations as soon as they take the first bite off a product.
2. It accommodated social endorsements.
Social media’s proliferation extended the users’ freedom of expression by placing the media right at their fingertips. The Internet evolved from simply being a place to meet and connect with people to somewhere customers can post reviews about the stores they shop in, the products they buy, and the restaurants they eat at.
As such, the ease of recommending a product via social media made it easier for small businesses, unwittingly at first, to be promoted. Now, owners take full advantage of this by encouraging customers to share what they think and recommend it to their network.
3. It increased customer satisfaction.
For many companies, engaging in social media is a way to make customers feel valued. This is why they make it a point to update them about their latest products and even as far as bringing back past deals when there is a demand.
Also, when brands interact with their customers online, it shows that they care about what the latter has to say. Small business owners demonstrate this by providing space for feedback and improving their products based on the reviews of the best judges out there—their customers. This is a win-win situation, since giving the customers what they want would boost satisfaction and would consequently result in improved sales.
The Social Media Titans
With such benefits, more and more small businesses are employing networking sites to hasten their popularity and growth. Although this particular medium was initially used as a way to stay connected to family and friends, it inevitably evolved into an ideal place to advertise and conduct business.
And as far as social networking sites are concerned, these are the three best places small businesses should be seen in:
Late last year, social networking giant Facebook reached its one billionth mark and it is still growing. By simply having an active and strong online presence, one can just imagine how easy it would be to tap into that big of a network.
Thus, as a part of their marketing strategies, owners take the time to create an account for their brands and invite customers to “Like” their pages. As soon as the latter click on this button, they are immediately subscribed to updates that can happen virtually anytime.
A social media hub for those who are often on the go, Twitter’s micro-blogging service expanded from the original 140-character text-based posts to Tweets with photo attachments.
Twitter’s straightforward manner of communicating has a distinct appeal, since a Tweet’s length is limited. However, instead of being a disadvantage, many brands enjoy the ability to excite their followers within the limitations of characters. And since Twitter basically works like a newsfeed, many people subscribe to it to get instant updates from personalities and brands they “Follow”.
3. Google Plus
A buzzing haven for the geeks and the tech-savvy, Google+ is the networking arm of its Internet giant namesake. This social networking site is known for its “+1” buttons, which users can click on if they want to add the account of a specific brand to their circle. The more +1s an account gets, the higher the possibility for the Google search engine to be familiar with the corresponding brand and consequently bring them to the first batch of the SERPs. And though teased as a ghost town for a few months after it was launched, Google+ is now 400 million users strong.
Social Media Strategies that Work
After equipping themselves with the right online tools, small businesses owners should also take note of effective social media strategies including the following:
When running a business, it is important to pay attention to what customers have to say about a product or a service. This is because a great deal of success depends on customer satisfaction. As such, owners have to allot time to seek feedback from their client base and interact with them virtually.
Another of way of listening is by paying attention to the news, trends, and activities that are relevant to a business’ niche. This way, owners can update their styles and thus provide their customers with a more personalized service.
2. Make the brand unique.
In a world where originality is valued, small businesses must work harder to stand out among competitors. Therefore, owners have to establish clearly what sets them apart and why customers should give them a shot. For a brand to really work, it must be personal enough for its target market to relate to, while not too specific that other customers will shy away from it.
3. Tell stories.
Customers are likely to respond whenever brands tug on a few heartstrings every now and then. To make use of this, what small businesses can do is to let their products tell interesting stories—something the customers can identify themselves with—as they release them into the public market. They can also teach lessons or share experiences that will evoke the customers’ emotions to make them feel that the brand understands their needs.
4. Know how to effectively utilize social media.
Even if social media is always within reach, owners still need to plan how they can utilize it for their business. Thus, it is imperative that they study what kind of social networking sites they will subscribe to and how they will communicate with customers.
Will they speak formally or casually? Will they publish a lot of pictures or just enough to excite the crowd? Will they write their own content or hire someone else to do it? These are just some of the important questions to answer before driving the social media wagon at full speed.
5. Create a community.
One way to tell if brands are gaining popularity online is when they begin to become part of discussions and forums. Assuming that their products and services are good, their customers will start talking about them in social media while those who haven’t tried them yet are likely to get curious.
Small businesses can benefit greatly from having a solid client base by getting ahead of things and starting their own online community. This is a good venue to ask for comments, to answer questions, and to help fellow businesses by making referrals.
6. Give away prizes.
Almost everyone loves freebies so it would be an advantage to provide giveaways by holding contests. This is great way to show customers gratefulness for patronizing the brand. It also acts a promotional strategy that can attract future customers to check out their products. What owners have to remember, however, is that they have to be crystal clear about the terms and conditions of the giveaway to avoid confusion among contestants.
7. Continue learning.
A business endeavor is a soil fertile with opportunities to learn. Even with social media, owners must always be mindful of how something can be a learning experience and how they can use these lessons to improve their brand and their performance.
Social media has undergone a number of major changes to accommodate the growing needs of businesses. In this day and age, it has become more prudent for owners to capitalize on these changes and watch their business get bigger over time.