Presence on social media is gaining importance as more and more small businesses are realizing the benefits they can gain from it. They are increasingly using platforms such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, to mark their presence in social media.
Those who are not yet used to the effect internet has had on marketing, are daunted by the technology of social media marketing. They find comfort in doing business the traditional way, in the safety of a building.
Novelty seems intimidating in the beginning, until you explore it. Similarly, small businesses have concerns for which they require reassuring answers. More and more people are accepting social media and small businesses are realizing that its presence is not temporary.
The following are the most frequently asked questions of small businesses. Maybe one of the questions below will address any of your concerns:
1. What is Social Media Marketing?
Communicating with stakeholders through social networking platforms such as Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, is called Social Media Marketing.
You use the pages made on social networking sites to share information about your business, customer feedback, guidelines for using your products/services etc. By doing this, you not only allow the customers to get to know you better but provide a platform to them to share their opinions also. All this helps in building relationships with customers.
2. Why does my business need to get involved?
Business and marketing has become fast paced due to the increased access to information. Customers get real-time information through their smart phones and tablets. In today’s era, customers want convenience; therefore, they expect your business to be present online.
By having a presence your business will:
- Be readily available online
- Be able to introduce/promote products and services
- Be able to strengthen bond with present customers
- Be able to capture potential customers
- Be able to enhance customer traffic through social interaction.
As your presence increases through your online interaction such as likes, posts, comments, tweets, it will have the added advantage of increasing your search engine rankings.
3. HELP! I don’t know where to start
Social media marketing works the same way as traditional marketing. Begin with a plan and chart out your goals and objectives for the campaign.
Losing focus is easy when you are marketing using social media. A well laid-out plan will assist you in concentrating.
4. How much time should I spend on each platform each day?
When you concentrate on the target, you need not spend excess time on social media marketing. It does not demand much time. As long as you remain focused, 10 to 20 minutes, twice a day would suffice in running a profitable marketing campaign.
5. When should I post?
Your timing should depend upon the schedule of your target audience. Research into the lifestyle of your target audience follows and post accordingly. For instance, if you were targeting business-people or the working-class, morning would be the best time to post. They mostly check updates on their way to work. Similarly, communicate during lunch-hour as well as after office hours, when they will be travelling back home.
You can post mid-morning, afternoon and evening if your target audience is the non-working or the retired individuals. As you learn more about social media marketing and your audience, you will become better at your timing. You will have to monitor the responses your posts generate (or do not generate) and see what timing generates the most responses.
6. Which platform should I use?
Out of the numerous options, keeping the usage in mind, Facebook is the apparent choice. It already has more than 1 billion users; and the number is growing daily.
Most of the people on Facebook are regular users, checking updates throughout the day. The diversity of users makes it a good platform for small businesses to be able to use varied advertising options. Tweets are gaining popularity. People follow tweets more than they follow the news, since it is faster. So that is another good option for you.
You need to be able to communicate effectively in limited words, because tweets’ characters are limited to 140. Considering the enormity of information people sift through online, the character limitation is in line with the short attention span of people. People do not read details, they just overview.
It’s worth mentioning 3 relatively platforms gaining popularity.
- One of the visual platforms is Pinterest. It allows the uploading and sharing of photos concerning any possible subject. Starting off by capturing the interest of female audience, the platform has now started capturing the interest of male audience as well.
- The second one, Google+ (Google+) is also in the phase of stretching its branches in social media. Google+ with the advantage of strong financial backing of its giant owner Google is expected to contest Facebook in becoming the leading social network.
- The third one, LinkedIn is popular as a platform for professionals. It allows for business-to-business interaction and is brilliant for connecting with colleagues and building professional network.
There are other social media platforms present, but these are the ones on top of the list.
7. How much does it cost?
It costs in terms of time. So, even if you are a small business with no or limited marketing budget, no need to worry, all you have to do is take out time. However, if your budget allows for moderate spending on marketing, then you can spend on placing advertisements on social media platforms such as Facebook. This would increase reach of your business at an affordable cost.
Remember, this list is not exhaustive of all the possible frequently asked questions small businesses might have or the answers to those questions. Just like traditional marketing, successful social media marketing demands customization as per your business, degree of competition, target audience, industry, budget, time and other factors affecting your business.
Engage with customers and grow your audience… The sheer quantity of information available on the social sites requires you to be quick at disseminating relevant content to customers. Sharing of irrelevant information will fail in engaging customers.
All businessmen know the importance of image and reputation. Dissemination of information, views, feedback has become quick and easy due to the Internet. Customers can now post comments in real-time and other customers can read those comments and in real-time too.
Whether you are getting positive reviews or negatives ones, it is essential to be aware of the customer views so that you can respond appropriately and timely.
Make sure you keep the following in mind:
- Encouraging your customers in spreading good feedback on social media about your business
- Keep an eye on what the people are saying about your business on the different social media platforms
- Manage your online reputation by responding timely and accurately to feedback, reviews and posts by the customers
- Be active in responding to the positive reviews by customers so that relationship with them can be strengthened
- Timely detect negative feedback so that they can be responded to as soon as possible
- Appreciate customers giving feedback after using your products/services.
Hopefully, through this article we have proved our point and made you realize the value of social media marketing for your business.