16 June 2024 Last updated at 03:25 GMT

Use of social media in small business

Use of social media in small businessNot too long ago, there was a lot of jargon revolving around the social media marketing and most believed that it takes a “social media expert” to do the job. Today, social media is not a new fad, but an integral part of marketing which can best be termed as evolutionary. It is your everyday marketing, every marketer’s lips—and it doesn’t have to be in the books or taught in order to be harnessed.

Yes, but what is Social Media really?
Good question. Social media, as we think of it, is a combination of a lot of things like blogs, online bookmarking sites, social networks, and social search. In other words, social media is anything that makes use of digital technology in order to create an awareness, engagement, likeness, trust and hype. By no means is this a complete definition, as technology is changing by the minute, but it is closest to accuracy at the time of our writing this.

As per Dynamic Business, in 2011 the use of social media by small businesses in Australia has seen a 50 per cent rise as compared to the previous year.

Studies show that 31 per cent of small business owners have more than one profile on Facebook, where as 10 percent have it on Twitter.

Overall, 78 per cent of small businesses are Twitter account owners where as 75 per cent are on Facebook, followed by 30 per cent who have a presence on LinkedIn.

What should small businesses use?
According to a study conducted by Mashable, Twitter is more interactive medium even though small businesses have a less likelihood of having an account on this platform. Yet, studies show that it has more number of customers engaged in the community.

Engagement = Traffic?
It’s easy to think engagement by your customers and potential customers on your social media will lead to more traffic on your landing page and therefore conclude Twitter as a clear winner—yet the real answer is a little startling.

Even though Twitter does a better job at creating a buzz about your product or service, Facebook is seen to have an upper hand at getting the posted links clicked.

Twitter or Facebook?
The conclusion for small businesses is to use both the major platforms in today’s social media scene: Twitter for engaging with your community and fans, Facebook for converting onlookers into visitors at your site.

In short, tweet to engage, and post links on Facebook to drive traffic.

Tighten up your posting habits
It’s also imperative to understand that the more frequently you show up at your social media account, the better engagement you
achieve. For example, in another study by Mashable it was revealed that those 62 per cent of the businesses who posted 8+ times a week received 10.27 comments per day.

In contrast, businesses posting 1-7 times a week (24 per cent) got 0.33 comments per day. That’s a major drop!

So while you target your audience, don’t forget to shield it against the massive cloud of social media chatter—show up regularly
and post tirelessly.

Do you want to thrive or survive?

That’s the question.

Although 76 per cent of small business owners with a social media presence in Australia said that corporate website was the preferred destination of their customers, the importance of such platforms remains pivotal. Social media is a fabulous tool which if used properly, could lead to better productivity, increased interactivity and effective marketing instead of being a time sucking machine.

If your aim is just to survive, perhaps social media is an extra stretch. However, if you want to thrive in the market as a small business, give it a shot.

So rather than asking if you should use it or not, a good question, perhaps, is “how to use it?”

So what are the perks?
To create a presence, small businesses will need to show consistent efforts into building a following. Yet, if all this doesn’t lead to any positive change, it’s much ado about nothing.

The top reasons for small businesses for using social media revealed in a study were:

  1. More exposure
  2. Increased traffic or subscribers
  3. Better search rankings
  4. New business partnerships
  5. Generate leads
  6. Reduced marketing expenses
  7. Better sales

Warning! Speed breaker ahead
Being a small business owner can mean wearing many hats and doing multiple tasks to keep your business sustained. This includes marketing.

Social media experts advise that to see substantial results from your online activities, give it some time. This means the results are not going to immediate— and sometimes not entirely measurable. Yet, have patience and tackle this as just another speed breaker on the road to success.

At the same time, it is highly unlikely that you will spend most of your time tweeting away (if that’s happening, employ an extra staff or change your strategy—marketing has many aspects and social media is just one of them). Most business owners in the world successfully exploring the digital platform and reaping its benefits are spending as less as six hours a week.

While it’s still an estimate, make sure to spend at least this much time per week to see rewards. Anything less than that means you will have to just wait and watch.

Social Media Armour
The above figure sums pretty much everything in social media that’s relevant to small business—from blogging forming the foundation to microblogging tools like Twitter sitting up at the top. Keep a check list of these items and see where you stand in the pyramid.

“They don’t use Social Media in my industry!”
Believe it or not, almost every industry can utilise the power of social media to communicate with its audience. That includes low tech industries like lawyers and handymen. Just because your industry does not use digital technology on a day to day basis, it doesn’t mean your audience won’t either. In fact, the key lies in building a target audience online and engaging it in a method relevant and best for your business.

Get Social!
Are you a pro when it comes to social media? Are you too much into it? A business needs to do a lot of balancing when using social media because it can be a time-sucking black hole if done too much or be an opportunity lost for those not using it at all.

So find that balance, make friends with social media and see results soar.


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