Social media is becoming an essential marketing tool for small businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve, connect with customers, and increase visibility for their organization. Most small businesses, however, aren’t capitalizing on the opportunity or are doing it wrong. In this article, I’ll explain why its worth every small business’ time (the little you’ll have to invest!) to take advantage of the benefits that social media.
Let’s start with some numbers. Facebook has over 1.6 billion members. YouTube has over 1 billion. Twitter, over 500 million. That’s nearly half the world’s population and I haven’t even mentioned Instagram, Pintrest, Flickr, LinkedIn, Vine, or the many other sites that your customers frequent.
Why is Social Media Essential for Small Businesses?
I work for a company in Gainesville, Florida that manages luxury apartments near UF (Universiy of Florida) campus. For us, connecting with potential apartment residents in the area can be difficult using traditional mediums – TV, radio, newspaper, etc. On social media sites, such as Facebook, however, potential apartment residents form groups like “UF Housing Options”, “Apartments Near UF”, or “Gainesville Apartments for Lease”. By joining this network, we can reach out to potential tenants without spamming or annoying because we have a legitimate service to provide these people.
Billions of potential customers frequent social media sites every day to stay up to date in the news and their networks.
Social Media Saves Time and Money
A recent study published that 74% of businesses don’t employ someone to specifically handle social media. By adding social media posting and updating to one employee, small businesses increase exposure and brand positioning while maintaining labor costs. That same study also asserted that 42% of companies taking on social media don’t spend a dime, while 17% will spend from $1-$100 using social media.
While companies spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on marketing campaigns, they assume that the cost must be worth the value. The effectiveness of social media sites, as rated by Zoomerang, beats the ROI for any marketing effort I’ve heard of:
- Facebook: 86%
- Twitter: 60%
- LinkedIn: 55%
Social Media is Easy to Use
Today, consistent, reliable communication can be rare. Working in the apartments industry in Gainesville, I frequently find e-mails from tenants, co-workers, or developers in junk e-mail or buried in the heap of my inbox. Enter social media. Constant Contact reports that less than 16% of social media users will not respond to inquiries or direct posts, while 60% of users responded all the time. Unlike bringing in a new employee to help with analytic information, you won’t have to spend time and money training new hires.
A small business with limited resources can rely on social media to supply considerable traffic and visibility. While there is little doubt to Social Media’s marketing effectiveness, there are still many small businesses not taking advantage. To get with the times and reach today’s consumer, small businesses must leverage social media opportunities.