This disconnect became more concrete in the latest Small Business Success Index survey. While the SBSI showed an “almost universal awareness among small business owners of Facebook and Twitter” only 27 percent of the entrepreneurs used Facebook for business purposes, and a mere 7 percent were Twitter users. LinkedIn garnered 18 percent.
Despite the tepid survey results, small businesses that have tried social media often see results: 63 percent say it helped make their customers more loyal. Other say social media has helped them stay engaged with customers, build brand awareness and identify and attract new customers.
So why aren’t more small companies doing it?
Many small business owners worry that social media is too “time-consuming” and that getting started can be very overwhelming. When FB Displays & Designs, Inc. first decided to integrate social networking into their marketing strategy, they had hired a college intern to build all of their profiles and begin initiating relationships. Over a short period of time, solid connections were steadily built across the board and members of the team could naturally maintain and interact with others among the different sites. Today, they use their social media presence as an outlet to interact with others, share important information and retain mutually beneficial relationships with their “friends and followers”.
Creating a successful social media presence boils down to a 2-step process:
1) Listen. Where is your key audience online? Set up Google Alerts for your business. You’ll begin to see where the conversations about your business are taking place. Listening helps you develop your voice.
2) Engage. Be sure you aren’t just blasting out information and news about your business. Interact directly with your followers. Ask them what else they would like to see from you and your business.
It’s important to remember that building a social media presence requires patience. If you’re not sure which site to begin with, find out which one is most popular with your customers. Learn the site to the best of your ability, refine its use and decide whether to move on to another. Social networking is all about building relationships and whether it’s online or off, relationships don’t happen overnight.
SOURCE: Rieva Lesonsky, www.AllBusiness.com Blog
We’d love to hear your thoughts on social media. For those of you currently involved on social networking sites, what strategies do you find work the best for your company?