Posts Tagged twitter

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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Are professional associations at risk of becoming redundant?

Australia has over 200 industry associations spanning professional areas such as public health, nutrition, sport, nursing, business, accounting, finance, law and marketing, just to name a few – but are these associations at risk of becoming redundant at the hands of the social media boom?

That is certainly the argument being made by online marketer and chief executive of Lead Creation, Toby Marshall in a recent BRW article titled ‘Industry associations lose ground’ and I’d have to agree.

As Toby points out, industry associations were traditionally set up to connect people professionally; facilitate networking; share information and knowledge through conferences and seminars; facilitate professional development; lobby governments and, in many cases, provide accreditation. However, social media sites such as LinkedIn can provide many of these functions for free, leading many professional association members wondering whether their annual fees are still providing value for money.

Social media groups certainly seem to dilute some of the traditional advantages of association membership, but will they eliminate the need for having professional associations all together?

For some industries, being a member of a professional association will continue to be important in terms of endorsing or adding credibility to your qualifications; however, for others the lure of social media’s ability to offer a wider range of information, varied commentary and increased engagement is likely to force many associations to consider integrating social media into their current membership offering or risk a reduction in membership numbers (and therefore revenue).

If professional associations are to survive in this era of social networking, they will undoubtedly have to adapt to better serve the needs of their member cohort. Certainly some appear to recognise this and have developed online newsletters and webinars to enable online professional development; however, many still fall short of their potential to provide online networking and relationship building opportunities.

So how can professional associations use social media to provide members with a place to connect and build relationships at their own convenience?

One solution would be to create a networking section on the association’s website in addition to developing and maintaining a presence on Facebook and LinkedIn, then facilitating engagement by giving members an opportunity to contribute blog posts, start discussions, and post news updates. Associations could also create a Twitter list for members, and through the association’s own twitter account, routinely link to member tweets and posts. Doing so would enable the association to become a valuable social networking channel for members, providing them with a place to network in their own time, on their own terms, and in the comfort of their own home.

Would you consider membership of a professional association that didn’t provide a social media offering to members?

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