SMEs are spoilt for online marketing options these days.
This is particularly true for the social media. Apart from the more well-known platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn, there are a plethora of other channels available, and more and more are coming online each month. In some ways this is a useful addition, yet in other ways it can also be a hindrance. SMEs can have too much choice. What’s important is that SMEs don’t try to communicate on every channel and risk spreading themselves too thinly. It’s much better to stick with one or two, whether that’s Facebook and Twitter, or StumbleUpon and Blogger. Less is more as they say. What’s vitally important is that small businesses have a proper and structured online marketing strategy in place in order to maximise the potential that the platforms offer. They have to be in a position to leverage the market, as the Americans might say.
So why is having a strategy so vital for effective social media marketing?
Well, isn’t it obvious? Social media channels offer small businesses unparallelled marketing potential. The Ether- world truly is unlimited. However, unless an SME has thought through its objectives and focused on where it wants to go, then it will be impossible to put systems and practices in place that will help it achieve these goals. Is there such a thing as a perfect combination of platforms for small businesses to target? Not really: it depends on the nature of the business and the products or services it offers. Most will not go far wrong if they stick to the trusted combination of a Facebook page dedicated to the business and a Twitter account where followers can see instant news and updates. Of course, it’s also worthwhile adding a YouTube account to that too, as it’s an ideal platform to show off current products and prototypes to existing and potential customers.
The advantages of marketing through a social media platform are numerous, but interaction is probably of most importance. Businesses can build their brand with an audience that has unlimited potential. Traditional marketing methods are proven to work, but they are expensive and rather limited in this digital age. New and existing customers are now only a click away from reading about your latest product or special offer. The communication is instant and accessible to all who are interested. Customers no longer need to rely on the postal service to bring them the good news. And the best part of all is that they can also respond and give feedback just as quickly. If your brand is performing well and delivering everything it should, your community will let others know how good you really are. They’ll become your unofficial, unpaid salesmen and women. If your latest ‘special’ isn’t that special, they’ll also tell you, giving you the chance to pull it before it does any damage to your brand.
If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, but are keen to join the party, then hopefully the following 5 tips will help you get your foot on the social media marketing ladder:
- The most important thing to remember when creating a social platform is to always redirect customers to your original site. It is imperative to link your customers viewing the information to the main business website to maximise potential conversions.
- Limit your social media marketing to a few platforms and focus exclusively on those. Have rigid processes in place to ensure regular outbound communication.
- Use social networking sites to interact with customers, before, during or after a sale. This is the chance to communicate with your customers in ways you could only once dream about.
- Twitter can be used very effectively by businesses as it enables short 140 character news updates and information bulletins.
- Facebook recently changed its fan page arrangement to give businesses more functionality on the site. Businesses no longer have to link their profile back to a personal profile. It’s also easier to track traffic, control posts and customise settings.