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Momentum Behind Social Media with Small Businesses

by Connie Steele on March 16, 2011

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Typing at nightSocial media continues to be a pervasive topic as many small businesses can’t ignore the pull of this free and influential medium.  What we’ve found in our latest wave of the Small Business Success Index is that social media is now being used by almost 1 out of 3 small businesses with Facebook being the most commonly employed site.

We commonly hear from small businesses that we interview and research is that they struggle to determine if social media is really worth it from a time, effort and business goal alignment perspective. What we can tell you is that among those who use social media, 54% have indicated it has met or exceeded expectations.  However, those expectations have shifted too as the role of social media has become more focused around it being an important as a way of engaging existing customers, compared to a year ago when it was perceived to primarily help small businesses identify and attract new customers.

That’s not to say that these small businesses haven’t achieved other accomplishments with this channel.  In the past 12 months, these business owners have also been able to realize the following:

  • Developed a higher awareness of the business in the market (61%)
  • Identifying and attracting new customers (59%).
  • Collaborated more effectively externally such as suppliers, partners and industry colleagues (44%)
  • Collaborated more effectively internally (31%)

What’s interesting to note is that we’ve seen positive shifts in these accomplishments through social media compared to a year ago!

Now, it is common sentiment that doing social media is a very time consuming effort but the benefit from leveraging this channel could pay off well for your business.  You might be thinking that all these statistics sounds great but how do I know what to do or where to start?  Here’s where some of the research suggestions from Amishi and my past posts could be valuable.   Before you start embarking on a social media strategy, figure out what it is that your customers want to hear more about when it comes to your business.  Based on the types of information they are seeking, the frequency in which they want that information and the potential channel they may want to get it will help you determine what your action plans can be.   This will certainly help you create a more methodical approach from which you can then test, tweak and refine.   One can never fully know if something is going to work until you try it out but what one can always do is give it the greatest opportunity for success by creating a solid plan behind it.

Image via Flickr (Creative Commons) by modenadude

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