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Why Should Small Businesses Embrace Social Media?
By Robert Reeve, Feb 25, 2014
Everywhere small business owners look online for digital marketing advice, they read that they should be using social media. However, for a variety of reasons, many of them are simply not taking advantage of the platform the various social sites offers to them, usually completely free of charge.
The biggest reason many small businesses don’t bother with social media, or try it but then stop after a month, is that they don’t see what they consider to be progress in a short period. A knowledge gap of sorts exists in terms of what should be considered progress. If you ask many a small business owner a specific reason why they stopped using social media and why they wouldn’t use it again, you’ll frequently hear about unhappiness at only getting 50 new followers in a month or frustration that their social content wasn’t shared to any great degree.
The need to look at social media through a long-term lens is enough of a discussion for another blog post entirely. For now, you need to get on board with these reasons for embracing social media, and commit to it in the long-term.
Social Media Boosts SEO
Forget about “SEO is dead” and “social is the new search.” Both are phrases that have been given more than their fair share of airtime in recent times, but neither are true. However, it is true to say that search and social are becoming more intertwined than ever before, and that your social presence can have a big impact on your SEO. However, this impact comes from social shares from your website, so while it doesn’t directly relate to your social media activities, it is one you need to be aware of and looking to capitalise on.
Social Media is Cost Effective
Unless you pay for social media advertising or you’ve taken out a premium membership or listing on a specific site, social media will only cost you the time it takes you (or someone you hire) to post updates and engage with your audience.
Using groups and hashtag functions, you can be very specific about the audience you target, too, meaning you get a form of free, targeted advertising. If you got offered that through any other medium, you wouldn’t turn it down, so don’t reject the chance to capitalise on social media. Once you build your following to the point where nearly everything you post is driving engagements and additional content shares, you can bundle the word of mouth marketing aspect onto this, too.
As well as being a free platform for putting out marketing messages, it is also a simple way to conduct market research. Ask a question, and watch the responses stack up.
Given the costs associated with running a small business, every small business owner should be looking to capitalise on the cost effectiveness of social media. If it becomes your main traffic source you’ll be earning big money without having invested anything other than time.
Reputation Management Benefits
A social media presence means you can always keep an eye on what people (and other businesses) are saying about what you do. As a small business, the last thing you want is to start having negative feedback appear about you online, as it could do major damage to your reputation and credibility. You can use your social media presence to manage this, however, to the degree that if anything negative does appear, you’re at least in a position to work towards a swift resolution and end with all parties being happy.
Contrast this to a scenario where something is said and you aren’t in a position to respond and do anything about it. Whatever has been posted then more or less becomes accepted as fact, and your business’ reputation takes a hit, probably unfairly.
For negative content that appears on websites other than social media, your social media accounts will usually rank higher than anything else for branded keywords (other than your key landing pages) and so keep it away from potential clients.
Although your website is the main representation of your brand, social media gives you the platform to reinforce this as well as show the “human” side of your brand as opposed to what may be a very professional yet cold and corporate feeling image from your site.
As long as you don’t start getting involved with political debates, you can pretty much use social media for presenting whatever face of your company that you want to, although it’s obviously better to focus more on what you do and can offer. There’s nothing wrong with the odd photograph of the view from the office or a discussion about a nightmare journey into work, however.
For small businesses, social media offers an opportunity to enjoy a level playing field where they can target the same audience as a global giant. It is an opportunity that is too good to miss.
Image Author: Flickr / Jason A. Howie
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