This is a great article to help you understand the importance of social media as a marketing tool in today’s business environment, and how to maximize the value of it for your desired level of involvement. It is written by Andrew Jones, the business partner who handles all my social media, including the database management and internet marketing involved. For more information on social media, visit http://www.juliewassom.com/social%20media.htm , or on Andrew and his firm, New Media Fluent, click on the link below.
It seems like a no brainer right, the match up of Social Media and Small Business? After all, social media has an almost non-existent barrier to entry, the majority of its marketing tools are free of charge, and it potential for brand and sales expansions are almost limitless!
Yet, you would be surprised just how many small businesses out there are not yet involved with social media. Why? I find the two most common reasons are due to lack of information, and some basic fears. We’ll start with fears:
My clients are not on the social media.
I won’t be able to control what is being said about me online
I don’t have the time to keep it up.
To rebut #1- Oh yes they most certainly are! My company New Media Fluent handles social media marketing for a multitude of different businesses- from large corporations, to one person shops. One of the small markets that I have dealt with is in the Alpaca industry. Yes, you probably don’t even know what an Alpaca is, which further proves my point (they look like very furry Llama’s by the way and their fur is used to make extremely soft material for blankets, sweaters, scarves, etc.). However, as small of a niche as the Alpaca industry is, on Facebook alone there are 8,680 peoplewho have Alpaca listed on their profile. Your customers are definitely out there, and they are on social media!
#2- Lack of control is an entirely valid fear. What can be said about your company, your services, and your products online can be enough to keep a small business owner awake at night. But here it is plain and simple; Your company is going to be talked about whether you partake or not! At least utilizing social media, you can not only see what is being said about you, but you can partake in the conversation and hopefully change any negative word of mouth into positive.
#3- Also a completely valid fear. Time is a major issue for most people when it comes to social media marketing. And I will not lie to you, one of the worst things you can do for your company is starting social media and then stopping. However, not getting involved at all is the only thing worse. There are three options here;
1. Set aside time every day, early in the morning, over your lunch break, after work whenever to go over your social media. By allotting a block of time, you won’t venture aimlessly through the social mediaverse.
2. Hire a company like New Media Fluentto take over your social media marketing for you. Learning how to properlyutilize social media marketing can be an extremely daunting and time consuming task. It is quite feasible to mess around on social media for 6 months and be no farther than you are today because you simply don’t know what you are doing.
3. Hire someone to train you to effectively, and time efficiently operate your social media so you do not find yourself wasting your most precious resource as a business owner- your time. (New Media Fluent does offer a training service as well for the record.)
According to Nielsen Statistics, 2/3 of the entire world population is using social media… that’s amazing when you stop and think about it.
Especially for older businesses; in order to remain relevant in the business world today and to reach your new customers, you have to be where they are… which is online. 70% of people trust peer review over conventional advertisements, so it’s time to start getting friendly with your customers. The easiest way to do this is via social media.
Your competitors are doing it already… and if they aren’t, then they will be soon, so you may as well start the bandwagon and be the first one so it doesn’t look like you are just copying others success. Being first, will make it much easier for you to become the “go-to” person for information in your industry. When people depend on you for information, they will depend on you for other things as well such as your services and products.
Whether B2C and choosing to market on Facebook where there are (as of June 16, 2010) 400 million active users! Or B2B and opting to go the avenue of LinkedIn with over 75 million business professionals, average income of $109k, and where 50% of the users are major decision makers in their company. There is a social media opportunity for whatever your need is.
You will not find a less expensive way to grow your business base, and improve customer relations than social media.
I recently read an article in USA Today which investigated two small businesses that have been using social media to improve their company: Southern Jewl’s saw a 60% increase in her business in the past 6 months since beginning her social media marketing.
The second example was Over The Moon Ribbons- A wholesale ribbon retailer. They boosted their tiny business into earning profits of $1,000 per month using social media… those are RIBBONS I’m talking about people!
Social Media Marketing works, and it is no longer an option, it is a necessity. Find an option that works for you, and jump onboard- before the ship leaves without you.
If you find yourself wanting to investigate the option of hiring a company to take over your social media, or to train you how to operate it effectively and efficiently yourself, please do not hesitate to contact me; Andrew@NewMediaFluent.com.