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Adding Social Media to the Business Marketing Mix; No Longer a Question of "Why" but "How"

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Adding Social Media to the Business Marketing Mix; No Longer a Question of "Why" but "How"

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: May 6, 2010 Updated: May 13, 2011

How does your business use social media in its marketing mix? If you use it to identify and attract new customers; then you are in the majority.

 

According to the latest *Small Business Success Inde- 61% of small business respondents use blogs, Twitter and Facebook profiles to expand-'

 

And while social media adoption is up, doubts do remain. Here are some of the other key findings of the *report:

 

1. The Social Media Users

 

Of those small business owners surveyed, one out of five say they are actively using social media in their business. How are they using it? Well among this group of social media users:

 

  • 75% have a company page on a social networking site
  • 57% have built a network through a site like LinkedIn
  • 45% expect social media to be profitable in the next twelve months

2. The Social Media Doubters

    Despite these statistics, many small business owners continue to harbor concerns about adopting social media, with time investment being the over-riding concern. The report goes on to find that:

     

    • 50% of small business social media users say it takes more time than expected
    • 17% express that social media gives people a chance to criticize their business on the Internet. Yet, only 6% feel that social media use has hurt the image of the business more than helped it

    Done Right, Social Media Marketing Levels the Business Playing Field

     

    There is no doubt that social media marketing and social networking can have a powerful impact on small business success. As Janet Wagner of the University of Marylan's Robert H. Smith School of Business explains:

     

    Social media levels the playing field for small businesses by helping them deliver customer service. Time spent on Twitter, Facebook and blogs is an investment in making it easier for small businesses to compete...we (are) at the point now, where...the question for business owners should no longer be 'why use social media marketing', but 'how'?'

     

     

    As with all marketing tools, social media fits differently into every compan's marketing strategy. While almost every business could benefit from a blog, not everyone needs to be active on Twitter all day long. If your target market is not active on social networks, then perhaps it is't the right fit with your marketing goals. For example, some, not all, B2B companies might find it hard to build a following on Facebook, but if you operate a consumer business, such as a restaurant or cupcake bakery, then Facebook is an excellent way to reach and engage with potential customers eager for information about menu updates, special offers, and events.

     

    And while Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn represent the most prolific social networking sites, whatever industry you are in, you can pretty much guarantee that, somewhere on the Web (from neighborhood online discussion boards to bloggers in your field of business), there is an opportunity to be where your customers are.

     

    Here are a few articles that explain how you can use social media to elevate your brand, improve customer service and generate business:

     

    Web Technology' The Next Big Investment for Small Business

     

    While social media marketing can be done on a shoestring budget and ranks third in small business investments to be made in the next two years according to the *Small Business Success Index, the priority investment by small business continues to be in building an online presence, whether from scratch or adding new functionality to existing sites.

     

    Business.gov offers several resources to help business owners start and grow their online business. Here are just a few:

     

    Follow the Business.gov Social Media Network

     

    You can follow Business.gov on the following social media sites:

     

    *Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.

     

    About the Author:

    Caron Beesley

    Contributor

    Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

    Comments:

    As a virtual LLC in the multimedia and Internet communications industry, we've discovered, I think, how best to utilize social media sites for marketing our business. Here's what we've found: 1. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (in that order) are most effective for us. The least effective has been Facebook. I agree with the author in that FB probably benefits location-based businesses like restaurants and shoppes better than virtual or non-location based businesses. 2. LinkedIn has proven very effective in generating sales leads and prospects. 3. Twitter has been predictably effective in terms of client relations, customer service and, to a lesser extent, brand awareness. It has been unpredictably (i.e., somewhat) effective in attracting new business, but this has mainly been incidental. For example, we met a business coach recently on Twitter who, after developing a relationship with her, gave us a referral. She then later hosted a podcast and invited me as the guest speaker, which may result in new business. Both LinkedIn and Twitter have also been effective for us in search engine optimization - improving our rankings in Google for a few select terms. We've had success in using other social media sites such as blogs and MerchantCircle, for this purpose as well. To address the doubters: yes, social media does require a huge time commitment to be successful. And I wouldn't agree that all businesses need to be investing in social media marketing. I would also agree that ROI is difficult to measure with respect to social media marketing. However, I do think there is a positive ROI: 'Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook represent paradoxes for the online marketer. We've found that Twitter, for example, can work wonders for customer service but is not so reliable for increasing sales when compared with the amount of labor that is required. And with Facebook, too much promoting can get your business fan page banned. While these media can generate sales, it is not in a predictable pattern, making ROI difficult t measure. Again, social media marketing works best for large, well known brands, and not so well at all for small, unknown brands. Thus it appears that, with social media, the brand drives the engagement, not the other way around. I still feel that there is a lot more hype than substance in discussions about social media marketing.' ('The Real Value Social Media', excerpt from Im0z, an Internet marketing blog)
    There is a very low start up cost to these that it is essential for people to learn how to do it. The crisis is still upon us. If we have the capability to go online, why not eh? Thanks for the other links. ~Samantha ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
    There is a very low start up cost to these that it is essential for people to learn how to do it. The crisis is still upon us. If we have the capability to go online, why not eh? Thanks for the other links. ~Samantha ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
    Very interesting. That's a new presective that I did not know about. Thanks fo rthe share. Jordan
    Very interesting. That's a new presective that I did not know about. Thanks fo rthe share. Jordan
    As a virtual LLC in the multimedia and Internet communications industry, we've discovered, I think, how best to utilize social media sites for marketing our business. Here's what we've found: 1. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (in that order) are most effective for us. The least effective has been Facebook. I agree with the author in that FB probably benefits location-based businesses like restaurants and shoppes better than virtual or non-location based businesses. 2. LinkedIn has proven very effective in generating sales leads and prospects. 3. Twitter has been predictably effective in terms of client relations, customer service and, to a lesser extent, brand awareness. It has been unpredictably (i.e., somewhat) effective in attracting new business, but this has mainly been incidental. For example, we met a business coach recently on Twitter who, after developing a relationship with her, gave us a referral. She then later hosted a podcast and invited me as the guest speaker, which may result in new business. Both LinkedIn and Twitter have also been effective for us in search engine optimization - improving our rankings in Google for a few select terms. We've had success in using other social media sites such as blogs and MerchantCircle, for this purpose as well. To address the doubters: yes, social media does require a huge time commitment to be successful. And I wouldn't agree that all businesses need to be investing in social media marketing. I would also agree that ROI is difficult to measure with respect to social media marketing. However, I do think there is a positive ROI: 'Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook represent paradoxes for the online marketer. We've found that Twitter, for example, can work wonders for customer service but is not so reliable for increasing sales when compared with the amount of labor that is required. And with Facebook, too much promoting can get your business fan page banned. While these media can generate sales, it is not in a predictable pattern, making ROI difficult t measure. Again, social media marketing works best for large, well known brands, and not so well at all for small, unknown brands. Thus it appears that, with social media, the brand drives the engagement, not the other way around. I still feel that there is a lot more hype than substance in discussions about social media marketing.' ('The Real Value Social Media', excerpt from Im0z, an Internet marketing blog)

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