(Photo Credit: Ibrahim.ID)
My dad and his business partner owned a small import/retail business in the city’s core. They imported and sold Chinese artifacts, furniture, paintings, fabric and traditional Chinese dresses (Cheongsams). Their client base grew from a few people in the community and tourists who were passing by, to clients who would make a regular trek from the U.S. How did they grow their roster of clients? There was no Internet, no tv or radio ads (too expensive!), no flyers sent far and wide. The answer: word-of-mouth.
Now word-of-mouth is done electronically through social media. Sure, we can create a website profiling our products/services; but, with a website, you are talking to your customers (one way) whereas with social media, you are talking with your customers and they in turn are talking to each other about you and your business. Plus, with social media you can see how your customers are feeling instantly and address any concerns right away.
Use social media as a way to promote and brand your company and connect with new clients.
I recently came across a report by Michael Stelzner, Founder, Social Media Examiner, whose group surveyed 3,700 marketers with the goal of understanding how they're using social media to grow and promote their businesses. The largest group that took the survey works for small businesses of 2-10 employees (37%), followed by the self-employed (23%). Seventeen percent of people taking the survey work for businesses with 100 or more employees. Most participants (52%) were based in the United States, followed by United Kingdom (9%), Canada (6%) and Australia (5%). Most survey participants (69%) were between the ages of 30 and 59. The median age was 40 to 49. Females edged out males, representing 58% of all participants.
Guess what were the findings?
Facebook & LinkedIn are the two most important social networks for marketers, with 93% of marketers using Facebook.
For Twitter, YouTube & LinkedIn, 62% plan on increasing their use of these tools.
A significant 64% of marketers were using social media for six hours or more and 41% for 11 or more hours weekly. For people just beginning with social media (less than 12 months of experience), 49% spent five or fewer hours per week. However, of the folks who have been doing this for two years or longer, at least 68% spend six hours or more per week on social media activities.
The top two benefits of social media marketing are increasing exposure and increasing traffic. A significant 90% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts generated more exposure for their businesses. Increased traffic was the second major benefit, with 77% reporting positive results. Most marketers are using social media to develop loyal fans (69%) and gain marketplace intelligence (68%).
Other identified benefits to using social media:
- Built new business partnerships by investing an average of six hours per week in social media marketing: 62% of businesses reported.
- Generated new leads: 66% of businesses reported.
- Reduced marketing expenses: 52% of businesses reported.
- Improved search rankings: 62% of businesses saw an improvement in search engine rankings.
- Increased traffic: 81% of businesses reported increased traffic.
- Provided marketplace insight: 63% of businesses reported.
Time invested made a difference. Of those spending at least six hours a week, 72% found benefit, with B2C (Business to Consumers) marketers (73%) much more likely to develop a loyal fan base through social media than B2B (Business to Business) marketers (63%).
B2B marketers were more likely (64%) to use social media to gain thought leadership than B2C marketers (50%).
Commonly used social media platforms:
Facebook (93%), Twitter (79%), LinkedIn (71%), Google+(56%), YouTube (55%), Pinterest (45%) and Instagram (36%) were the top seven platforms used by marketers, with Facebook leading the pack by a long shot.
The overwhelming majority of marketers used Facebook ads (84%), followed by Google ads (41%) and LinkedIn ads (18%) with B2C marketers using Facebook ads more (89%) than B2B marketers (75%).
A large percentage (71%) used visual assets in their social media marketing. Close behind was blogging (70%). Podcasting was only used by 10% of marketers so this represents an opportunity. B2B marketers are much more likely to use blogging (77%) when compared to B2C marketers (64%). Podcasting was also more common among B2B (12%) than B2C (9%). The self-employed were more likely to use blogging (79%)
And did you know that Canada has the highest social media network penetration in the world, with 82% of Canadians using a social network? (We Are Social: Social, Digital & Mobile Worldwide in 2014)
This begs another question: is it possible to measure ROI (return on investment) for social media activities? Only 42% agreed they are able to measure their social activities. The ROI issue has plagued marketers for years. In 2014, 37% indicated they could measure ROI and in 2013, it was 26%.
So what’s the next step? Check out these select sources on social media and small businesses.
|Social Media Advantage||Online Marketing
for Small Businesses
|Social Media Analytics|
Built in Social
Zero to 100,000
Watch video tutorials on Facebook advertising fundamentals or social media marketing with Twitter or Facebook, on Lynda.com, Toronto Public Library’s exciting new electronic resource, free with your library card. Lynda.com gives you access to more than 3,500 video tutorial courses led by experts on web design, software development, photography, business skills, home and small office, project management, 3D + animation, graphic design audio, music, video editing and more. It requires the creation of a personal account which will allow you to track your progress through your tutorials. Available anywhere you have Internet access, you are just required to sign in with your valid TPL card.
All the best with growing your business!