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Small businesses benefit most from social media

In recent years, ‘[social media has moved from uncertain strategy to primary tool in the savvy marketer’s toolkit and it seems the self-employed and small business owners are reaping the most benefits]’, according to Michael Stelzner author of the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

Of the 3342 marketers surveyed, 47% were either self-employed or small business owners. Here are just some of the areas where they reported greater results from using social media than their peers

  • Almost 90% reported increased exposure in an increasingly noisy marketplace
  • At least 59% developed new partnerships
  • They were twice as likely to find qualified leads
  • 48% saw improved sales as a direct result of their social media effort
  • Almost 60% reported reductions in marketing costs when using social media

But when small business owners have so many demands on their time, just how much time needs to be invested in social media to reap the benefits? Perhaps not as much as you’d think, with 75% of survey respondents reporting increased traffic and twice as many leads generated with as little as 6 hours a week on social media.

According to the report, almost all marketers have four tools in their toolkit; Facebook (92%), Twitter (84%), LinkedIn (71%) and Blogs (68%), with small business owners more likely than others to increase their use of LinkedIn during 2011.

Not all are going it alone, with 34% of small business owners reporting that they outsource at least part of their social media for growth. Tasks being outsourced include: design and development (17%), content creation (10%), analytics (10%) and monitoring (7%). Somewhat surprisingly, only 6% are outsourcing or seeking advice regarding their strategy.

It is also encouraging to see that marketers are integrating their social media efforts with other emarketing and more traditional marketing strategies, with 64% reporting a desire to increase their use of SEO and email marketing, as well as webinars, teleseminars, event marketing and press releases.

As Michael says ‘small business owners are finding great value in social media marketing [and] in many cases, they’re benefiting more than their large company peers]’.

Refer to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report for more insights into how social media can help businesses of all sizes and levels of experience. And for more helpful hints, tips and resources I also recommend Small Business News: Small Biz Social Media Guide.

References:
Michael Stelzner 2011, ‘2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report’, viewed 25 April 2011.
Phil Mershon 2011, ‘Small Businesses Benefit Most From Social Media – Study Reveals’, viewed 25 April 2011.
Small Business Trends 2011, ‘Small Business News: Small Biz Social Media Guide’, viewed 25 April 2011.

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Mazda’s social media zoom

Most automotive websites are essentially big advertising sites focused on one way communication with customers. Mazda, however, have revamped their approach to bring the essence of the zoom zoom brand alive online, both on the website and within social media channels – and many seem to like their new direction.

As noted elsewhere, ‘prior to the development of the site Mazda lacked a social network and community strategy, with no official Mazda Australia presence on Facebook, Flickr or YouTube and a tactical attempt at Twitter’.

Recently launched (with the help of igloo and Sitecore) the Mazda Australia website is now an integrated social media and community portal aimed at user engagement and interaction. In agreement with Alastair Doak, National Marketing Manager at Mazda Australia’s comments, the new site ‘enables new and existing Mazda customers to engage with the brand and connect with other Mazda enthusiasts on a more personal level’.

The Mazda Community’ features heavily at the forefront of the site, and users are encouraged to contribute to photos and galleries online; access news, competitions, event information and ambassador profiles; and ‘ask an expert’ a Mazda question. Live tweets appear – on the community homepage – and there are links to community forums, blogs and reviews. Interestingly, many of the links go outside of Mazda to owners’ club sites, commercial reviews and independent blogs.

And for those of you with a keen eye, you’ll notice that as you navigate around the site, the page background images change to feature photos contributed by Mazda Community members.

With social media integration, an improved technical infrastructure and information architecture overhaul, the site undoubtedly provides a more engaging and informative user experience and fast-tracked calls-to-action, making it easier for users to book a test drive, locate a dealer and request a brochure. Customer service issues and vehicle questions are now being raised and responded to online and through social media channels.

Within two months of launching the new site the spike in user interaction was already noticeable, with a 52% increase in site views, and brochure requests rising by 36% over the same period. Today, Mazda Australia has an official Facebook page with 2351 fans, a Twitter following of 2392 and a dedicated YouTube channel where viewers can access commericals and videos about Mazda vehicles, concepts and designs, events and motorsport, in addition to videos posted by community members.

Mazda have undoubtedly committed significant resources to this emarketing and social media strategy, and will need to continue to do so in an effort to monitor and manage their social media presence while keeping the community interested and engaged in their activity. If they haven’t done so already, they should also consider implementing policies regarding employees posting on blogs and websites on behalf of the company.

With the help of igloo, Mazda Australia appears to have established the foundation and direction of a successful social media strategy. I commend their decision to enlist the assistance of an agency in planning their jump into the social media, and hope to see them continue to move forward in this space.

References:
CIO 2011, ‘Mazda Australia zooms ahead online‘, viewed 16 April 2011.
Australian Creative 2010, ‘Mazda’s new digital offering by igloo‘, viewed 16 April 2011.
David Scott 2010, ‘Mazda Australia social media Zoom Zoom‘, viewed 16 April 2011.
Mazda Australia 2011, viewed 16 April 2011.

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