Small business owners often lament about how difficult it is to keep up with the always changing social media platforms. Myspace came and went. Then there was Facebook. LinkedIN, (Facebook for professionals) has held true for years now but has only just recently provided truly useful features. Blogs surged in popularity giving rise to the micro-blogging site, Twitter. Now, the latest and greatest global networking platform is Google+. I can appreciate the frustration. It seems like as soon as the world agrees, “this is what we’re all going to use” its popularity peeks and everyone jumps ship. My advice to business owners is always the same. The sooner you can accept that this how it is, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits.
The biggest mistake a business can make online is to ignore social media.
Ignoring social media because you are overwhelmed by the choices or simply don’t understand the benefits can result in major business opportunities lost. The most recent usage statistics are staggering. As of April 2010, social networking accounted for 22% of all time spent online in the U.S. Nielson Wire reported that more than 75% of global online consumers used social networks. The amount of time users spend on these sites has increased dramatically too increasing from an average 3.5 hours per month in 2009 to nearly 6 hours in 2010.
In September 2011, Nielson Wire conducted a survey identifying what social networks were being used for. Staying connected with family and friends, entertainment, and use for creative outlets were the most popular reasons. Business owners, however, will be pleased to hear that social networks are used extensively for products and services as well. Users are taking advantage of social media for product research, coupons and promotions and sharing consumer feedback (both reading and offering opinions). Businesses are seeing this type of interaction convert directly to sales.
Benefits of Social Media for Business
- Brand recognition + increased brand visibility.
- Establishing trust: Understanding of current trends and technology.
- Building authority and industry-wide recognition.
- Improved understanding of consumer needs/wants.
- Direct interaction with consumers.
- Warning of potential product/service issues.
- Reputation Management: Ability to represent your business and brand.
- Direct traffic to your website.
- Establishing client/customer contacts.
- Sharing of important news and industry trends.
- Monitor and analyze competition.
Get Started with Social Media
It is never too late for your business to get started with social media. New and long-standing businesses are joining social networks every day. Breathe easy, you haven’t missed the boat. Though most social media networks are free to join, there may be some cost associated with getting started. Creating accounts, writing profiles, uploading logos and photos all have some time associated with it, and thus, cost. Businesses that want the benefit of creating a true social media marketing strategy may find it advantageous to hire an SMM (social media marketing) expert. SMM consultants can also help you create and manage advertising through these networks if you choose. If you simply want the accounts created and set up, most SMM consultants will do this for you at a reasonable rate. For those that want to do it themselves, I suggest starting with the current most popular networking platforms: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIN. There are many more and some that are especially useful for specific industries. If you are curious about social media networks for a specific industry, email me or ask in our blog comments below.
If you are new to social media, simply start by creating your accounts, uploading your logo, linking to your webpage and of course, read our blog article: 5 Ways Social Media Can Benefit a Business, Without Socializing. Check back soon for helpful tips on how to engage with social media effectively. After all, engagement is what makes it social.