According to data reported by an internet marketing analyst more than half of small businesses are using social media for business purposes, but only 4% consider it a must (compared to word of mouth which rated 50%). The findings are in the eMarketer article which asks, Are Small Businesses Apathetic About Social Media?
What does this mean to you? It means you have an opportunity. Social media – which includes sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as blogging – is an inexpensive way to get your brand, your message, your product or service out in front of people. It’s an easy to use medium that doesn’t require math or a bidding strategy. And when done right, it significantly increases brand awareness and familiarity with your business, which can help promote trust and accelerate your sales process.
So if it’s so great, why aren’t more small businesses taking full advantage of social media? There are a few reasons I’ve heard more than once, but these all fall into the category of excuses that need to be challenged:
1. “I don’t know how to use social media”
To be fair, this usually means “I don’t know how to use social media well.” Social Media is extremely easy to use from a technical view point. But just because you can post something doesn’t mean you should. Using social media as a marketing channel means you still need to understand your marketing objectives, positioning, and messaging, and incorporate these into your communications. But unlike email or other forms of one-way communication, social media is a two-way conversation between you and your audience. And just like it’s no fun to have a conversation with someone who never listens to you, your customers will expect you to be authentic and responsive when they take the trouble to communicate with you in social media.
2. “Social Media Takes Too Much Time”
Baloney. Finding friends from third grade and browsing through pictures of your cousin’s vacation takes too much time. Using social media for marketing your small business should take at most an hour a day, preferably split up into three brief sessions in the morning, afternoon and evening. Check to see who has posted, post something interesting yourself, and move on.
3. “There Are Too Many Social Media Channels”
While true on the surface, the solution to this is simple. Choose one or two that are best for your business and stick to them. Most businesses use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, so one of these might be the right fit for you, depending on your business model. Also Google is in the process of rolling out its own answer to the social media revolution, called Google+, so keep your eyes on that.
In conclusion, social media is a fantastic channel for marketing almost any small business on the internet. With so many small businesses not utilizing this channel, or at least not utilizing it effectively, this means you have an opportunity to stand out and bring more customers to your business.
Learn more about social media for small business, start ups, entrepreneurs and non profit organizations.