These days, most major brands and businesses are embracing social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, and their executives are also blogging on a daily basis. Unfortunately, while some small businesses have begun to dabble in social media; many still don’t understand why ongoing participation is so important. If results from a recent survey are any indication of the importance of being active in social media, then small business owners need to change their way of thinking right away. They are the ones who stand to benefit the most.
The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report found that 90 percent of marketers believe social media is important to their businesses and small business owners are seeing the greatest results from their social media efforts. @Mike_Stelzner, founder of the Social Media Examiner, authored the industry study in which he surveyed more than 3,000 marketers, 47 percent of whom were either self-employed or small business owners.
So why is social media so important to small businesses? Phil Merson of the Social Media Examiner highlights some areas where small business owners saw greater benefits than their peers:
Forty-eight percent of self-employed and small business owners saw improved sales as a direct result of their social media efforts;
The self-employed (59 percent) and small business owners (58 percent) were more likely than others to see reductions in marketing costs when using social media marketing;
The self-employed and small business owners were more likely to report new partnerships, with at least 59 percent noting a benefit;
Small businesses were twice as likely to find qualified leads as other types of businesses.
One of the key benefits to social media is that it gives small businesses the opportunity to “keep up with the big guys” in their industry. Using social sites such as Facebook and Twitter allows small businesses the ability to interact with consumers and promote their products and services without being burdened with the high costs associated with building websites and launching their own, private online communities. It also provides them with an opportunity to gain insight into what is being said about their brand, their business and their industry. Never before has this opportunity to receive immediate and important feedback been so easy to obtain.
When it comes to creating a successful social media campaign, it isn’t as difficult as you might think. What takes the most time is being sure that to keep up-to-date with the conversations that are being had, and ensure that you are actively participating. Remember: just having a Facebook, Twitter or YouTube account for your small business doesn’t mean you have a presence in social media. To build up a following, you must be sure that you’re posting updates, comments and links on a regular basis. If used correctly, social media will help develop awareness of your business, establish your expertise in your industry, build relationships with customers and promote your products and services. Keep in mind that the social media landscape is constantly changing and social networking sites can come and go within a matter of months. By keeping informed on the latest social media developments, you’ll be able to adapt your strategy accordingly to maintain continued success.
For more information on how small businesses are using social media, be sure to check out this infographic on Mashable.