How to Use Social Media for Small Business

It is clear that social media has grown dramatically over the past couple of years and that using over 800 million active users, the number of Facebook users is easily more than double the size of the whole population of the United States!

Its growth has been astronomical and now, tens of thousands of people are posting more personal and business information online than ever before. It’s happening at lightning speed with thousands of articles, tweets, and uploads occurring every hour. Learn more right here.

1. Seek first to understand – you must know the basics of how exactly is social media actually works and how it’s used. What are individuals and businesses doing with social media? What gets them results? Some of you might be thinking, how can I do so? Maybe you could look at trying it out for yourself by setting up a personal account, then analyzing a few of the attributes, or find a trusted friend to show you their accounts and steer you through. Alternatively, there are many resources and ‘how-to’ items online about social networking, that you could run a search on Google or about YouTube to a specific subject of interest and observe the video tutorials to get educated.

2. Know your purpose – what’s your objective is for using social media? What do you expect to accomplish for your business by utilizing it? You must recognize your purpose for getting involved in social media (or any other marketing activity for that matter). You have to work out why you’re taking part. What do you expect to achieve? Do you merely wish to build brand awareness, engage with your customers or identify new sales opportunities? Remember to be realistic about what you think you’ll have the ability to realize.

3. If you decide to take part in social media, which sites are best for you? – With the plethora of social media sites available, which ones are best for your business? Think about where your target audience would socialize online, and think about the amount of time and resources you would realistically have the ability to commit to maintaining and administering your site presence. Which ones are ideal for you? You may find that some are a better fit than others.

4. Quality Content – If you decide that social media is ideal for your business, carefully consider the amount and quality of information that you want to share in the online sphere. Remember it will probably remain there for quite a while, so you need to be certain it accurate and reliable information that’s valuable to your target audience. It has to be applicable, otherwise, people are not going to read it.

There are a host of reasons for participating in the social networking community including:

  • It is cost-effective. Many accounts on various social networking sites are free to prepare.
  • Huge worldwide audience.
  • Enables you to obtain feedback in real-time and communicate with customers in real-time.
  • Gives your business an additional marketing channel, to raise the comprehension of your product, brand, or organization.

However social media does pose some obstacles for businesses that have to be measured up:

Time and Resources – you ought to be willing to devote the time needed to think of fresh new content. So it’s important to think about if you’ve got the time and the resources to effectively manage your social networking presence.

Handing over brand management – You hand over some of the charges of your marketing campaigns and efficiently your brand to your target audience. They are going to be able to comment on articles or other content and you need to get prepared for both positive and negative remarks. However even when you’re not administering a business Facebook page, it’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t anything to prevent customers from submitting opinions on their own sites or other public forums about your products and services.

Assessing ROI – The introduction of web tracking and analytics tools brought with it the ability to easily gauge the achievement of certain online marketing and advertising campaigns. However, the nature of social media means that you may not necessarily have the ability to see the results of your effort right away. Your social media attempts might allow your consumers to ask more questions or additionally engage with your brand or product, but like most other relationship-building activities, it requires some time to build brand loyalty and repeat sales, it’s very likely that your social networking activities will not have a direct impact on earnings which can be easily quantified, there may be a lag.

Social media, how is it being used?

If it comes to consumer adoption, the growth of social networking websites has been exponential, however as more research has been done regarding site usage and customer behavior, we begin to gain greater insights into the sorts of tasks and tradespeople engage in when seeing social networking websites. Interestingly, the top 3 reasons identified at the Sensis Social Media Report, for using a social networking site were:

1. To catch up with friends and family.

2. To share photographs and movies.

3. To co-ordinate parties and other shared activities.

As we could see from these survey results, individuals are still predominately using several of these websites for the fundamental reason they were created. I.e. To “socially” socialize with their community of family, friends, or peer group. I am not suggesting that we ignore the simple fact that 15 percent of those respondents did suggest that they use social networking sites to find out about specific brands or businesses, or that there are many excellent case studies where successful social networking campaigns are launched using Facebook or even Twitter, however, I think it’s important for us to keep things in perspective and understand just like conventional types of marketing and advertising, social networking marketing needs include the fundamental elements of any fantastic effort for it to be successful. We will need to bear in mind that a number of the very same rules apply online as they do offline.

Additional research findings seem to suggest it is still more common for a user to search a company site when making a purchasing decision than on ‘fan pages’ and a business website provides a stronger source of information. “It seems that just about a third of respondents admit that they are influenced in their purchasing decision by enthusiast pages while nearly half say they seem to business websites instead.”

It appears social networking is here to stay, and that the Web 2.0 revolution and the Internet will continue to evolve, forming the way we communicate and do business. There are definite indicators that consumers now are much more empowered to utilize the online sphere to voice their concerns, preferences, and needs. This makes it increasingly important for businesses to determine strategies to react to these evolving customer relationships to catch these markets and opportunities.

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