More and more companies are now turning to social media to advocate their business and connect with customers. In fact, there are over 9 million small businesses that have accounts on Facebook, the most popular social network for building brand awareness. It is increasingly apparent that social media is becoming a necessary marketing tool for small businesses; however, many of them are not realizing the brand-boosting potential of this medium. According to a study, more than a 25% of businesses have not considered how social media can impact their business, and another 25% consider themselves amateurs.
Why is social media good for marketing? First of all, it’s inexpensive. Most businesses can get away with free accounts on social media platforms. Secondly, their customers use social media. As of July 2013, Pinterest increased from 47 to 70 million users and Facebook now boasts over 1.1 billion users . Twitter gets over 300,000 new users daily . Keep in mind that these stats only give a small snapshot to illustrate the massive amounts of people using social media worldwide. In addition, the average Facebook user has 130 friends. By building relationships with people through social media, a business can easily have access to a Pandora’s Box of new contacts that they couldn’t reach before. Finally, it is easy to use and does not require an extensive amount of time to maintain.
A frustration for small businesses, however, is that social media just does not seem to pay off right away. However, many people have soaring expectations for social media, believing that everyone will want to plus, like, retweet, share, and pin their messages. A social media campaign cannot be treated along the same avenues as a Pennysaver or a newspaper ad. Many businesses tend to treat their social media ROI in terms of crude numbers, which makes it easy to become disheartened when there seems to be a lack of responses for the first few weeks.
Here are four mantras to keep in mind when starting your social media campaign
- Social Media= the New Word of Mouth : Word-of-mouth advertising is considered one of the most coveted marketing concepts. People most often turn to their friends and family for information on products and services. However, the game is changing. The hyper-connectivity nowadays is leading to less personal interaction and WOM is increasingly being driven by social media. Instead of asking friends, more and more people are turning more towards online sources such as reviewers and commenters. A study shows that 72% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as their friends.
- Love just one : It is easy to spread yourself too thin and become overwhelmed when trying to launch a campaign through several platforms. A good strategy is to focus on one and become an expert at it. Keep in mind that the best social platform for your business may not be the one that is your favorite to use. For example, LinkedIn is a great platform for sourcing leads and Twitter is a good first choice for professional services looking to establish credibility. Pinterest is a good target for the female demographic and would be ideal for retail companies.
- Set realistic goals : A social media campaign is a relationship campaign, so think long-term! Again, several people will want to see a payoff right away, but building a community and a brand reputation online takes some time. Realistically, six months is a good timeframe to measure whether a campaign is working for your business.
- Live by the 80-20 rule : 80% of the content that you post should be directed to your customers: what their interests are, addressing what they need and providing solutions to problems that they have. Only 20% should be posted about yourself and your company. The key to engaging your customers is to listen and understand their needs or pain-points.
And remember, stay calm and keep tweeting!