According to the recent yellow social media report(6) only 27% of small businesses and 34% of medium enterprises are plugging into social media. The data demonstrates an increased spend in 2012, small business have spend an average $3,410 on social media, up from $2,050 in 2011 and medium enterprises are likely to spend $16,920,up from $6,500.
Social media spending will also surge in 2013 and there is opportunities for companies who navigate this target market.
So if you are consulting a small business on how to best to use social media, where do you start?
Firstly, a business needs to map out their target market. The nature of the prospect will also decide which platform they may use. For example, most businesses will start with Facebook, although B2B and professional services are better catered for on Linked In. There are many social media platforms that allow for different demographics and different interests.
Secondly, a business has to be quite specific in what they want to achieve. Social media can lead to better brand awareness; it can be a way to research your market; provide better customer service, and of course increase sales. A clear call to action will get the best results.
Thirdly, decide on what content you will be providing. The fresher, the more interesting content, the better it will be received by the audience. A business should aim to be a thought leader in their particular field. As a by-product, fresh regular content leads to great SEO results.
A business must allow sufficient time to engage social media, if you have a presence but do not regularly reply to users, it can be negative for the brand. Half an hour a day should be enough for a business starting out in social media. There are also many tools online that will help someone organise their social media presence, for example HootSuite is a tool for scheduling posts.
I believe the best approach is to be creative with social media, that is, use the nature of the medium to provide value to the target market. Here are some examples…
Twitter is a great way for a restaurant to share their new menu.
A dentist can publish videos of clients testimonials to lessen the fear for new customers.
If its a business that makes things, Pinterest is highly visual and a great way to exhibit products.
A nutritionist can write blogs, the more compelling the content, the more likelihood of getting inquiries.
Let me know of other examples where SME’s can use social media to promote their business.