The social media sphere often generates a lot of uncertainty for small business owners.
As a market research professional, I have heard small business owners ask these questions time and again:
– Will Social Media generate new business?
– Is it worth the time?
– What is the right approach for me?
Here’s my take:
Will Social Media generate new business?
It can generate new business but it is not something that will happen instantly. What social media can do is increase engagement with your clients and prospects. People want to work with people that they know, like and trust and social media provides the opportunity to build relationships in the most efficient way possible. This level of engagement can lead to traffic or interest in your business which may ultimately turn into sales. Social Media will help your business build awareness, create appeal, generate traffic, and identify your best customers and prospects. According to PEW Research, half of online adults ages 50-64 and one-in-four wired seniors now count themselves among the Facebooking and LinkedIn masses. That’s up from just 25% of online adults ages 50-64 and 13% of those ages 65 and older who reported social networking use one year ago in a survey conducted in April 2009.
Also see what small business said in the latest Small Business Success index
Is it worth the time?
One of the biggest issues that small business owners who currently engage in social media activities state is that their efforts used up more time than they had expected. Succeeding in social media requires daily participation and interacting with your customers and prospects one on one is definitely more time consuming than sending out a mass email. However, social media does not require a lot of budget or resources that some of the other efforts to promote your business do and is very effective. In my opinion, the benefits clearly outweigh the time spent.
What is the right approach for me? Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are great sites for businesses that are just starting out with their social media efforts.
- Facebook is the most valuable of all the above mainly because of its popularity and exposure. It is a great tool to interact and engage with customers and prospects. With over 500M users your audience nay already be spending time on Facebook and your presence will give them a convenient connection
- LinkedIn is perfect for those businesses that are looking for a more professional approach. It gives individuals an opportunity to showcase their experiences and connect with like-minded professionals. It has limited features but is also low in maintenance. It is important to keep the profile updated as your business can appear on searches made on Linkedin.
- Twitter is the easiest way to reach a wide audience with the short, quick updates. It also had a simple and easy to use interface which makes it easy for new users of social media.