Technology has certainly changed the way that many SMEs operate day-to-day, from cloud computing to the use of eFax services like email to fax. Technology such as social media is also continuing to have a big impact on SMEs when it comes to how they undertake marketing activities.
Social media can be a very effective free or low cost marketing tool with the capacity to reach a massive audience. Here’s a quick guide to social media and how it can be used in SME marketing.
Social media facts and trivia
- It’s older than you think! It had its origins in the 1970s – long before the www – with programs such as Bulletin Board and CompuServe that allowed message and file sharing.
- Since 2005, social media use has grown exponentially. According to data published by the Search Engine Journal, in the eight years from 2008 to 2013 for instance, the use of social media by 18-29 year-olds grew from 9% to nearly 90%! Today, there are also many older people (over 65) who are using Facebook regularly.
- Research from 2014 shows that 70% of businesses surveyed had gained new custom through social media.
- In 2014, 47% of social media users in the USA stated that Facebook was their top influencer for making purchases.
- The most popular channels include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. LinkedIn centres largely on businesses and is particularly good for B2B, whereas Facebook, Twitter and others are often used for B2C (but may be used for both).
Why social media might be better than television
Television advertising can be prohibitively expensive for the average SME. While social media is generally free to use in basic mode, there are paid options available that can provide businesses with access to a massive audience all at minimum extra cost. Social media also reduces the dependence a business may have on traditional marketing channels.
The cost of advertising on social media depends on the network you use. With Google Plus and Facebook for instance you get to set your own budget. According to a report on Moz.com, Facebook’s minimum budget is $1 (USD) per day, and with the capacity to reach 1,000 people for 25 cents, that $1 could provide you with exposure to 4,000 people. That’s certainly a lot of bang for your buck!
How to make use of social media
Social platforms can be used for the following:
- To interact with your audience and show your business’s ‘human face’.
- Promote events and special offers.
- As a marketing research tool by following conversations and discussions.
- To ‘spy’ on a competitor’s page (all in an above-board way of course!)
- To amplify content on your website. For instance, if you have a blog, you can link to articles from your social media pages with a short post to describe them.
- For networking with other business owners.
Why you need a strategy
If you just randomly post, you are less likely to have an impact, so it’s important to develop a social media strategy just as you would for other types of marketing. This includes finding out which platforms your target audience favours and at what times they are usually online. This way, you can develop a schedule for targeting and timing your posts accordingly. A program such as Hootesuite can be good tool for social post scheduling.
Advertising on social media
If you use paid ads on your social accounts, make sure to use tracking tools so that you can measure your marketing impact and calculate your return on investment, and also targeting options to make sure your posts are reaching the right people. With Facebook for instance, you have the option of targeting according to age, gender, geography, language, education level, interests and others, or a combination of several categories.
So with the opportunity to reach large numbers of people at minimal cost, make sure that you don’t overlook the wonders of social media for marketing your SME to the world!
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