Where is the business market online? The answer is Social Media. People interact on social media, and they talk about the business and its brand image on social platforms. The small businesses need to be listening in on these conversations. Most small businesses have not invested in a social media strategy. They are missing an immense opportunity to connect with their consumers and build a network of dedication for their fans, friends, and clients. The modern world is increasingly connected through digital media. Social platforms have changed the manner and speed at which communication takes place. This has resulted in a change in the way business, and especially the marketing aspect is conducted online.
Online social media allows the business to integrate their marketing programs and relationship building strategy through the creation of compelling online content.
The most common mistake that small business owners make is allowing themselves to be sold a lie that the concept of social media marketing is nothing more than creating social media profiles. This is the work of questionable agencies and dubious experts who have realized that they can cash in on the ignorance of small business owners.
A small business owner should be wary of agencies and experts that try to sell them an idea that creation of social media profiles and accounts for their business is the way to generate leads in new business. The truth is that social media truly is a powerful way to generate new leads and increase the sales volume of the business but this only holds when done right. The process is not as simple as most small businesses have been led to believe. There is more to this process than just the creation of profiles on social media and the occasional postings on these platforms. Small business owners need to realize that the level of investment they make into social media is proportionally tied to the level of success that they will achieve.
Here are some of the main challenges that small business owners face when they decide to engage on social media.
1. Lack of time to engage properly on social media platforms
For small business owner, social media is just another in a long list of activities that they are expected to undertake for the well being of their business. They are also expected to do this with the small number of employees that they have at their disposal. They lack the capital and resources to find someone to handle the social media aspect of their business on a full time basis. This leads to a scenario where the few workers that they have at their disposal are expected to multitask. The result of all this being that the social media aspect suffers neglect and does not end up adding any value to their overall business performance.
2. A wealth of social media platforms they need to engage into
3. Inability to measure the impact of social media on their overall business performance.
Small businesses are unaware that there are tools that they can use to gauge the value of social media to their business accurately. This creates a situation where they are reluctant to invest in social media as they are unsure of the actual value this is going to bring into their business.
4. Lack of awareness of the tools and services that make social media work well for a small business.
Small business owners are unaware that there are tools and services that handle such aspects of social media as monitoring and management. They are, therefore, unlikely to invest in something as useful as a social media command center. This is a software approach that integrates the various services and tools that will be operational on social media simultaneously. A good example of such a suite is Hootsuite. The command center will also handle metrics of social media activity.
5. A lack of understanding of how to use social media.
Small businesses have a challenge when it comes to understanding social media and acting on the information put there by their consumers. While they do see the immense amount of information in terms of feedback and consumer behavior that is available on these platforms, they are unsure of how they should respond to or act on it. They, therefore, find themselves surrounded by a pool of information that they are unable to take advantage of in any useful way.
What small business owners need to understand is that social media is a long term investment. You need patience if you are going to build relationships and networks on social media that are going to be of any benefit to your business. Social media as a tool for business growth mainly focuses on creating useful relationships and networks. Just like in real life, this is a process that takes time and is not likely to yield any quick and easy results for the business. The business must slowly cultivate the relationships and networks on social media platforms by taking the time to engage with their potential market. This calls for connecting, building loyalty and trust, responding to customer queries, and providing feedback to the consumer.
So what should small business owners be doing?
Use social media to highlight the location of the business:
According to statistics by Google, most consumers use social media to find local businesses. This calls for the business to invest in online content, social engagement, and referencing that will highlight their local presence and build a brand trust.
Start thinking of social media as the online representation of their businesses:
Consumers engage each other on social media about businesses. The business must, therefore, start considering their online presence as an extension of their actual business. With Geo-targeting of businesses on the rise, thanks to sites as Yelp and Foursquare, what consumers say about your business online reflects on its performance much more than they may realize.
Cultivate patience when using social media platforms:
Success on social media is not an instant thing. You have to invest and give the investment time to grow and start showing fruits. In order to balance the wealth of social sites out there, choose the ones that are most useful to the type of business you run. Then start with one and add another as you master the first one. As you add, make sure that you integrate them to ensure that you do not focus on one too much to the detriment of the others.
Monitor social media metrics:
Learn the use of analytics and metric tools to keep you engaged on social media. Use tools such as Google Alerts to keep yourself informed of what consumers are saying online about your business. Engaging consumers on social media call for responses to comments and feedback so make sure that this aspect is also covered.
Learn the value of automation of social media activity for your business:
It is necessary to acknowledge if someone leaves feedback or appreciates your service. This becomes even more crucial if they leave a negative comment. The customer feels valued, and this is vital to success of your business.
Do you have any other social media marketing tips for business/brands to share? I will be looking forward to them in the comment box below.