Social media channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook might be a cost-effective marketing channel for small businesses to engage with their customers – especially in the current economic climate. It’s pretty much a case of Do It Yourself marketing, business owners don’t need to hire marketing agencies and therefore are able to keep marketing costs low. It also allows small businesses to have greater control over messaging and branding.
The advancement of technology and the birth of social media means that small businesses can talk to their customers online and to a certain degree carry out market research in ‘real time’. It helps to keep costs down and can be done by the owner or someone else in the company. Like any marketing activity, small business owners will want to see ROI on social media and therefore should identify a few metrics or KPI’s to help monitor progress. Even though social networking can be a low-cost activity, ROI isn’t something that should be ignored or forgotten about, but small business owners should see social media as an opportunity where they can:
- gain customer insight
- what products/services to sell
- what marketing channels to sell through
- have a one to one discussion with customers
Social networking isn’t just about keeping in touch with customers and attracting prospects – it can also be used to engage with friends and family and use them as advocates. This is something that small businesses can do and should do – after all a lot of small businesses generate new customers through word of mouth and referrals.
Like any business venture, you need to have a strategy and plan of action. Although social media activity is relative straight forward to get into, you need to make sure you can manage and sustain it. Don’t forget you will be engaging with your customers so you want to make sure you’re delivering a high level of customer value and service – and making a long-lasting impression. There are a multitude of social networking sites on the internet, it’s best to review a handful and decide which ones will best work for you e.g. retail consumer related products might be better on Facebook and business to business products might be more fruitful on LinkedIn. Once you’ve tested a few sites and managed your social media activity, you can then expand you’re activity.