Social Media & Small Business
Old school marketing may have been expensive and the returns on investment vague but the concept was simple for everyone to understand. Create an advertisement, publish it and hope someone engages. However, times have changed and marketing of a small business value proposition to its target customers must also change.
Small business and social media cannot be avoided. To ensure a small business survives and prospers in the 21st century it must have a website that's achieved, or is on the path to achieving, sustainable organic traffic. To develop organic traffic the business leadership must finance the creation of content for the purposes of developing an audience. The content has to be interesting, relevant and valuable to the target audience before that audience will engage.
The use of social platforms is necessary for the purposes of delivering content to as wide an audience as possible and to increase the subsequent potential for building relevant traffic back to the target website. Therefore, developing expertise in the use and purpose of various social platforms is unavoidable.
Social media has become an overwhelming subject and, because of its wide scope and relative young "age", is not usually an area of expertise for small business operators. It may be tempting for a small business to jump-in and engage without a strategy or plan. However, not only can a poorly planned strategy become a cost and time sink-hole, if it's not adequately prepared and executed, it has the potential to damage the brand and identity of the business it was intended to enhance.
Small businesses interested in developing a social strategy most likely get the basic concept that the idea is to establish networks of high quality contacts on each of the social platforms they want to develop. This network of contacts becomes the audience for the content. The more contacts the wider the audience and, the wider the audience the more likely the network continues to expand. It becomes a virtuous cycle - so long as the content is valuable, relevant and interesting.
Why not take a look at our Business Modeling Platform to see how an effective social strategy can develop web traffic and lead to new customers?
Where to Start?
Everybody has heard of the popular social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, etc. But, for a small business, among the biggest questions faced as a strategy is contemplated is just where to start.
- What's the most important platform to use?
- What strategy should be developed for each platform?
- How many different social platforms need to be developed?
- What are the usage patterns and demographics of each of the social platforms?
- What content needs to be published?
- How frequently should content be published?
Although challenging, an effective social strategy is not rocket science. The four key requirements are;
- Creating content in which the target audience has an interest.
- Building a relevant audience.
- Consistently delivering high quality content over a sustained period of time.
- Mastering the techniques for how to, when to and the frequency for, delivering content.
In the early stages of a social audience building strategy it's quite difficult to see all the indicators of progress and to stay motivated to execute the strategy. Often, a small business operator becomes disillusioned and spends less time preparing (or paying for) high quality content and the initiative stalls.
Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets - it's hard work preparing useful content and then continuing to consistently publish until it becomes an embedded component of day-to-day business operations.
The Price of Failure
With over 80% of buyers conducting research online before making a buying decision, a strong website with great content directed toward helping buyers with their research is imperative for a business to survive. However, with a billion websites existing on the Internet it's no good having great content without a strategy to develop traffic back to that content. No one will find it by accident!
- Use of social media as a part of an inbound digital marketing strategy is really no more than a modernization of old-school traditional marketing efforts.
- Old-school methods are less efficient than modern digital methods and will ultimately lead to business failure.
- Businesses can no longer depend on the circulation or audience of third parties and must develop their own.
- Content is "king" - no one will read or engage with poor quality, irrelevant content.
- There are no silver-bullet solutions - it takes time to build a successful social and inbound digital strategy.
- Small business owners must invest in content creation, audience building and engagement.
We have a focus on independent resellers in the office products industry which mostly consists of small to medium size businesses. For the most part this industry has not performed well in the field of website traffic development, social engagement or e-commerce. Why not download our free eBook on the path for a business transformation in the office products industry. Just click on the link below.
The use of Social Media is not optional for businesses that have an interest in a long-term future!