“Social media spark a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.” – Brian Solis
Social media has undoubtedly become a ‘dictator’ – it dictates how people interact, how companies engage with customers and how customers provide feedback and talk about what interests and concerns them. With one click of a button, people can interact and share their views with others. For companies it can prove to be a rather cost-effect method to talk about their offerings, reaching millions of people in one instance. It would be prudent then to start enhancing small business through social media since it makes it much easier to market one’s brand, provide online and continuous service to customers, enhance the quality of customer service and also drastically cut down on promotional and marketing endeavours. However, statistics reveal that there are still a number of small business owners who are not making any use of this powerful medium. With so much information on the internet on how to use social media and the benefits that can be gained, small businesses are lagging behind on effectively harnessing the power of social media.
We will look at how enhancing small business through social media is possible and the benefits derived. If you are not logged in to social media, you are probably missing a host of opportunities, falling short in providing service to customers, trailing behind in attracting new customers – in short adding that competitive edge to your business. Social media is proving to be a boon for companies and businesses of all sizes and those who are still debating on whether they should or can get on to the bandwagon are losing out on precious time and opportunities of enhancing business through social media.
- The most obvious reason to use social media is its tremendous visibility. One post / comment / discussion / customer review can be seen by millions of people. Of course, the downside is that if your company messes up or a customer is vexed enough to write uncomplimentary things about you, this too is seen by a very large audience. However, the benefits of using social media to promote your company or even just yourself – as in the case of freelancers and independent agency owners – the reach is tremendous and within a short span of time many people can turn in to customers and give you the potential to reach out to even more prospective customers.
- The fact is that most people have discovered the benefits of being present on social media sites and your current customers are most definitely already using this medium. A report, in the not so distant past, revealed that within America alone, most people spend at least a one fourth of their internet time, logged into social media sites – commenting, reading blogs and engaging in ‘conversations’. We all know that for customers to be happy, they must be served in the time and way they expect and so they naturally expect that if they want to reach out and connect with you via social media, you most certainly must be present. Customers do not want to waste time and would much rather engage with companies that can match their pace and method of communicating. Not only will you lose out on current customers, potential customers will also be veered towards companies that will make it easier for them to do business speedily and on-the go. A presence on social media will ensure that customers – existing and prospective – will constantly have your offerings in mind and would recommend them on even if they don’t have use of them currently. The adage “out of sight, out of mind” rings true here!
- The more frightening fact is that while you wait in the wings wondering whether to be present on social media or not, your competitors are probably already forging ahead on these sites. It is giving them a competitive edge that could have been yours – you are practically handing them business both from the market and your own too! Getting on to social media will give your marketing and advertising efforts sharpness and focus that every company – especially a small business, needs.
- The great thing about social media is that it is interactive and businesses are able to gauge reactions almost instantly. Other channels are more to do with simply conveying a message. The results are seen later. With social media, companies can engage in ‘conversations’ and discussions with customers, prospective customers and other people within their circle. With the possibility of garnering support and gathering ‘fans and followers’ companies know on a regular basis what the ‘voice’ of the market is for them. Gaining a foothold and trust is especially vital for small businesses struggling to compete with the big players. It would be important to remember, that most businesses started out small and with invaluable support now from platforms like social media, any business can strive to get bigger.
- We all know that strength lies in numbers – social media builds those numbers. It allows people with a common focus and similar goals to come together to form ‘communities’ online wherein there is an exchange of ideas that prove extremely beneficial. When companies allow customers to engage with them through this method, customers feel closer to the brand and this in turn builds loyalty and affinity. Small businesses can gain immensely using the ideas and comments provided by customers, prospective customers and people part of the ‘community’.
- Enhancing small business through social media is possible also since you are opening another mode of communication with your customers. This mode allows your customers to send you information, requests, post comments and engage with you from any part of the world and at any time. Keeping pace with these requirements would mean that you employ staff to man this channel round the clock, but your customer service levels rise significantly, making your company more attractive to customers and others and increasing the opportunities for your company to add to its profitability.
- It is essential for small businesses to make their presence known because if people do not know that they or the products they sell exist, how can they buy. Enhancing small business through social media is possible when you are able to ‘educate’ people about your company and its products and gain customers through this sharing. Updating your site, posting relevant blogs, sharing great content are all means of sharing knowledge and information for the users of this medium, which they in turn can share with their friends and contacts, widening the reach of your company.
This is the age of globalization, digitization and a fast moving business world. No company, especially small businesses, can hope to survive by using traditional methods of advertising and doing business. Customers will no longer spread a good word about a company and its products and service unless they are consistently delighted and so this is no longer a reliable way to enhance business. The whole business landscape has been altered since the dawn of social media and customers assume that every business that wants to move ahead and be successful already has a presence on social media. It would seem that customers do not even make the effort to look outside this realm anymore! So if you are not on social media, you are throwing away an extremely powerful tool and vast repository of professional growth possibilities. Enhancing your small business through social media is a wise move – after all this platform is not the domain of the big players only. It is here to stay, so why delay in reaping its myriad benefits.