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The Benefits of Social Media for Small Businesses

I found this blog on http://socialmediatrader.com/social-media-marketing-for-small-businesses/ and wanted to share it!

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There is no denying that Social Media websites have made  huge strides on the web. The immense number of people who participate in social media websites has led to increased investment in the growing field of social media marketing. As we see a rapidly growing number of small businesses include social media ideas and strategies in their goals, we will look at exactly what a social media marketing campaign means and where the benefits are for small business owners.

If you’ve not been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ve probably heard about sites, such as, Facebook, Myspace and Youtube. It seems that many small businesses have embraced these sites and have diligently filled out their profile pages and waited (and waited and waited) for a rush of traffic and new business to arrive.Despite what you may hear, there is no “silver bullet”. If you want to attract new visitors to your site then you have to actually participate and become involved in a community.

There are also social news websites, such as, Digg and StumbleUpon that have the potential to send up to 40k unique visitors to your website in a short space of time as well as a good number of backlinks if you manage to reach the front page. If you don’t get your story to the front page, then you are unlikely to see much more than a handful of visitors.

Social Media Marketing(SMM) is the practice of creating compelling content from a marketing angle. SMM general happens off your website, and the best example of it is on Social News and Bookmark sites. Social media marketing can help to grow a website very quickly under the right conditions.

Benefits of a Social Media Marketing

More online conversations about your brand
A successful Social Media Marketing campaign leads to a lot more talk about your brand online. When your message works with your users, they will spread your message more effectively than tradition methods.

Quick turnaround
Hitting a front page of major social video, news and bookmark sites will send you huge amounts traffic and almost instantly. This doesn’t mean the traffic will equate to conversions, but it should generate momentum in the right direction.

Low costs
A comprehensive SMM strategy may provide a partial or full replacement of traditional advertising and marketing at a fraction of the costs.

Impact on search engine rankings
SMM campaigns bring you large amounts of backlinks that benefit your ranking in search engines.

Compatible with traditional Marketing
No one says you have to approach and embrace SMM full on. SMM campaigns can be run along side traditional marketing and advertising.

The power of recommendation
Would you rather buy from a faceless company or from a company that people recommend? We know that initiators and influencers play an important role the buying process and you can reach these people with SMM.

Sidestepping ad blindness
Traditional online advertising methods, such as, banner ads are seeing drops in the level of their effectiveness. As ad blindness increases, social media marketing has the potential to send visitors to your website without traditional advertising methods.

Things to consider

Social Media Marketing can be unpredictable if sufficient planning has not been made. Consider the following points for any SMM campaign.

Target audience
Having a general idea of what your customers want is not enough for effective SMM. You should define in detail who your target audience is, what is it that they want, and how you offer content of value that is most relevant for their needs.

Once you identify your target audience, you will be able to focus on what they have in common and crafting a strategy to draw in more of the same people.

Length of campaign
Although you may see traffic relatively quickly, it is important to note that a for real success in SMM, you must think and plan long term. It may be more damaging to abruptly end conversations with your customers than to never start one in the first place. Know your time scale objectives and work towards them.

Strength of product
Consider that your products or service will be exposed to a huge amount of potential customers almost instant; Are you confident in the strength of your product? It is imperative to understand that you will be under scrutiny and having a product or service which just isn’t strong enough can have very negative side effects. If your product or services do not perform well, then maybe you need to re-evaluate your target and or the viability or appeal of your product.

Time constraints
Obviously, with any small business, time is an important factor. Depending on what your product or service is you may find it more efficient to allocate a larger portion of time on a few targeted sites rather than spreading yourself too thinly across multiple sites.

A definition of success
You must set short term, medium term and long term targets for you campaigns. Without clear goals and objectives, your campaigns will fail.

Here are a just a few examples of what success might look like:

  • Reducing costs for achieving the same targets
  • Gaining a better understanding of your customers
  • Increase brand exposure in ways which were not possible before
  • Increase Sales and Conversions

Tips on Running a Successful Campaign

Two way conversations
You must listen and respond to your customers. This is not like setting up a poll on your site. Having conversations which flow in both directions help you understand the concerns of your customers, why they exist and what you can do to fix them.

The personal touch
Automated responses and standard letters are a great way to sabotage your SMM campaign. social media is about equal conversations and recommendation. Just think, would you rather purchase a new camera from a friend who recommends it or an automated newsletter?

Transparency
Be transparent, be honest. There are many compelling ways to raising awareness for your company. Having hidden agendas or stretching the truth will simply backfire.

Be a part of the community
Acknowledge others in the community which offer value to your business. Take some time to really be a part of the community and share useful knowledge. Personality goes a long way. It’s a bit like making friends; you have give a little to receive. You never know, you may build useful networks that extend offline. If you begin your campaign pushing only your content and disregarding the community, you will be dead on arrival.

A successful Social Media campaign can prove to be one of the key catalysts in growth for a small to medium sized business. It can increase brand exposure and PR for a fraction of traditional advertising costs and effort, as well as provide large scale market research and product refinement ideas at no extra charge.

Soon, SMM will join SEO as being important aspects of any site owner’s marketing strategy. The speed in which trends evolve on the internet is can often be daunting, but SMM by large companies can be emulated in whole or in part even by very small businesses. It’s not the money. It’s the content marketing mindset that separates success and failure. Big ideas can beat big budgets.

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