Social Media And Small Businesses
January 27th, 2014 by
Early last year, an article was featured on StreetFight.com that made some overzealous claims about social media marketing for small businesses. The negative stance was made loud and clear: social media marketing + very small businesses = zero return.
I take the most issue with the article’s claim, “The type of business most likely to realize a social media return on investment are B2C businesses whose customers are younger than 50 and that focus on entertainment, retail, personal services, or tourism. B2B or home services, or businesses catering to older people, do not fare nearly as well.”
In my experience, that just isn’t true. Every business can benefit from social media marketing. Here’s why:
Social Media is for Everyone
First, let’s talk about the age comment. The whole “social media is only for young people” idea is dead. Besides the fact that every family member I have over the age of 50 is actively engaged on Facebook (and some are even on Twitter), there are numerous statistics that prove age assumptions wrong. The fastest growing age group using Facebook is surprising – 45-65 years old.
So, in all actuality, Facebook has transcended the age divide.
Second, the article singles out B2B companies, saying that these businesses do not do well on social media. Wrong again. According to Vocus, 90% of B2B companies are currently on Facebook. Outside of Facebook, Twitter has emerged as a popular platform for B2B, with 85% of B2B marketers citing Twitter as the top social platform, followed by LinkedIn at 82%. If those stats are not enough, there is a whole list here.
Social media generates leads and leads make B2B. That’s a fact. Social media allows businesses to:
generate brand awareness
increase customer engagement
establish a personalized/genuine relationship with customers
respond to customer reviews and make improvements
share special offers and highlight products
The list goes on, but what I’m driving at is that social media drives site traffic. When executed well, social media marketing acts as a hook, getting customers intrigued. All social media business profiles should direct the customer back to the site. Regardless of the products sold, even if the business isn’t based in “entertainment, retail, personal services, or tourism,” social media marketing can work for small business.
Low Cost Alternative to Traditional Marketing
As the article points out, sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+ are all free, so the only cost is time. However, the easy-to-use formats of all these sites allow for quick updates. Plus, there are numerous scheduling tools out there, like Hootsuite, that allow you to make posts into the future. The benefits behind social media marketing are well worth the time SMBs are dedicating to it. Most businesses don’t have the time to run their own social media profiles, so these customers usually contract with Search Influence and our partners to manage their social profiles for them.
Finally, the article says “Sure, social signals are important for SEO. But as far as knowing that inputting X equals Y placement in search results, we don’t know the equation and never will.” Even if we don’t know exactly what X and Y are, we do know that there is an obvious correlation between social media traffic and site traffic.
For instance, an increase in followers leads to more shares, and shares are a great way to spread your website content and brand name. An active social presence will also generate inbound links and improve customer satisfaction as Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks provide the optimal forum for direct customer-business feedback. In other words, social networks increase online visibility, and they don’t just provide a small window of visibility – these business profiles open a genuine link between customers and businesses.
Putting Social Media to Work
So, small businesses shouldn’t count out social media marketing just yet. Create profiles that promote products and engage your customers in a genuine fashion. Of course, all of this support for social media marketing would fall on deaf ears without a direct example. One of our clients, a small business of the exact strain highlighted in the Streetfight article, reached out to Search Influence two years ago. At the time, they only had 97 Facebook fans and site traffic in the low hundreds.
Now, after a strategically designed Facebook ad campaign and other SMO tactics, the client has over 27,000 likes on their Facebook page alone and generates monthly site traffic in the thousands. Although their site traffic was not driven by Facebook alone, their Facebook ads had a click-through rate five times the average for other Facebook ads.
Annual ad spending is increasing most rapidly on Facebook. By the end of 2014, 88% of small businesses expect to put some of their marketing dollars on Facebook, up from 43% in 2009. Recent estimates show ad spending on Facebook and other U.S. social networks increasing by 31.6% in 2013 (eMarketer, 2013).
Even though social media marketing may still be a bit undefined, many online marketing experts predict that it will only become more prevalent. The future of links-to-like upheaval hasn’t been determined, but the power of the “like” is only growing stronger. Don’t count out social media marketing because you are afraid that you won’t generate a fan base due to age restrictions or the size of your company. Explore the social media networks out there and find the site that best works for your business.
Top 5 Keys to B2B Social Media Success
Be authentic – good content is still key
Promote your brand – send signals that direct viewers and fans back to your website
Be personal – social media works best when directed towards a specific audience, which is easier than you think with the Facebook Ad Campaign tool.
Be engaging – post things that will be shared or liked. Find what kind of content works best for that specific social network. Don’t be afraid to use humor or to have fun! Like we did with this post!