Posts Tagged social media strategy

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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Common social media mistakes and how to avoid them!

Barry Libert recently said ‘If you want to become a meaningful part of social conversations and interactions, you’ve got to know who your [audience] is , where they spend their time online, and what sort of content is valuable, relevant, and will foster their continued interest and participation. And that’s just for starters’.

Indeed, there is plenty to be considered before jumping into what Barry calls a ‘profile creating, news-tweeting, blog-posting frenzy’. Half the battle though, is to figure out what not to do. So, to make things a little easier, here are some common social media mistakes and how to avoid them.

Too much, too soon
A quality social media presence requires focus and patience.  Before trying to create a presence on every social media site, achieve success on one and then leverage your learnings in additional accounts.

Under investing in social initiatives and abandoning them too soon
Early on, you’ll need to invest a good deal of time, thought and money in attracting fans and followers – and your efforts will need to be sustained. Successful strategies include posting quality content people want to consume, encouraging interaction and responding to criticism. Include customer and employee testimonials and use multiple approaches (blogs, Facebook pages and your web site) to reach more people.

Neglecting to encourage and inspire your followers
It’s not about you; it’s about your audience. Don’t broadcast; listen. Ask questions and incite participation. When you think about it, your fans and followers are essentially giving up their time and energy to interact with you and promote your company – you need to respect that and take their comments on board.

Relying on a ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy
This kind of thinking is flawed from the start – you can’t simply build a social community and expect people to join. You need to offer incentives, develop a strategy and target your audience through multiple channels to ensure they know you want to build a relationship with them.

Underestimating  the power of a social network
Social media and community collaboration can bring many benefits including brand-building, customer loyalty and retention, cost reductions, improved productivity, new product ideas and improvements, product and organisation promotion and revenue growth.

Forgetting your brand
Your social media activities should supplement (not replace) a balanced and integrated marketing and communications strategy that supports overall business strategy and objectives. In that way, your social media activities should reflect, support and enhance your brand. You must maintain your reputation and image while providing value to your audience.

Selecting the ‘wrong’ social media spokesperson
Your social media presence provides the ‘voice’ of the company so it is essential to select an employee with a detailed understanding of your products and brand to manage your social media accounts.

Failure to train employees
You need to provide staff with a baseline of the basic ‘what to’ and ‘what not to’ do’s, as well as set expectations and provide policies for employee participation.

Forgetting to measure metrics
It is important to define the metrics by which you will measure your social media activity, success and campaign results. Some metrics to consider include; number of followers, impressions, clicks, sales and registrations, to name a few.

References:
Barry Libert 2010, ’10 Social Media Mistakes We Bet You’re Making’, viewed 24 April 2011.
My Charity Connects 2009, ‘Top Ten Social Media Mistakes’, viewed 24 April 2011.
Brian Rice 2010, ‘Top 10 Common Social Media Mistakes to Avoid’, viewed 24 April 2011.

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