The global reach of social media is staggering. Statistics calculated at the turn of the year suggest that 271 million people use Twitter alone. A further 300 million have a LinkedIn account, and 1.2 billion use Facebook. When you consider the sheer numbers involved, it stands to reason that the most effective way for SMEs to access the world’s market is through social media.
When compared to other online marketing campaigns that a small business can run, signing up to free social accounts across multiple channels is an easy and cost effective way to reach out to clients. Further stats show that 26% of SME marketers already spend an hour or more on their social media presence each and every day. A further 84% use social media to reach out to customers across multiple channels.
Understanding the Value of Social Media
The popularity of social media lead generation among SMEs is growing because leaders within this bracket are beginning to appreciate its value. As more information is released that highlights how dominant technology is in our lives, the more small business owners can see how a social media campaign is likely to connect with their target market.
In 2016, we are surrounded by smart phones, tablets, computers and laptops. The average person is thought to have 5 social media accounts and spends 1 hour and 40 minutes each day browsing these networks. Social media has given small businesses a way to speak directly to their audience every single day.
Although social media has given SMEs the ability to challenge larger brands, whose vast budgets are less important for this particular marketing tool, it doesn’t mean that they can be complacent. As the number of businesses using the channels continues to rise, the more important it is that authentic, valuable content is shared.
71% of social media users are more likely to purchase from a business that they have connected with online
This won’t be simply because they have been bombarded with offers or a sales pitch, but instead that they have been exposed to the company over multiple platforms and absorbed the information they have shared.
Dealing With Online Complaints
An area where businesses can both benefit and suffer when it comes to social media is through complaints online. Although many businesses will use social media to promote and to share, the key is always to engage with your audience, and interact with comments both good and bad. Shockingly, statistics show that around 56% of customer tweets to businesses are ignored by the owner of the account.
These are potential leads that are being allowed to drift away. It takes a long time to build up trust, and seconds to destroy it. Social media is a great way to elicit a positive response from customers too, and begin to build a profile as a trustworthy and reliable provider. Only 42% of businesses use social media to gather feedback, seemingly ignoring the ‘social’ benefits of the platform.
Learning About Your Competitors
Social media is a great way to understand and learn about your customers too. If there are trends within your industry that your target audience is responding to, then you can gather this info through the platforms you use. Trending topics will give you a way to begin a conversation with people who are already engaged with the subject.
It is a fantastic listening platform, if used correctly, and can really give a company the advantage when it comes to the demographics that matter. It may be that you can take advantage of local news trends, to help build your presence in a specific area. Equally, if you mostly sell to a specific gender, or within an age bracket, you can again align yourself with specific topics that matter to these individuals.
When asked, 56% of marketers say that social media is so important because customers expect them to be there. It is therefore likely that not only are your customers on social media, but your competitors too. Social media is a great way to monitor your competition. You are able to find out information that might otherwise have been withheld, by checking how a particular company is using their social media presence, and what is working well for them. You can also be sure that if they are failing to utilise social media effectively, then you have the advantage.
46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase
If you embrace social media, then you are giving yourself a greater chance of success over a rival. Equally, if their engagement is far more effective than your own, you can easily learn from them, and adapt to meet similar market needs.
So social media really is the ultimate online marketing tool for SMEs. Cost effective and simple to integrate into a daily routine, it gives you access to your target audience in ways that other marketing services simply can’t match. Small business leaders across the world are embracing social media. Make sure that your business doesn’t get left behind.
Ashley Davis (or ‘Ash’ for short) is the CEO & Founder of Skyline Social. For over 15 years, he has been helping business owners with lead generation. Ash specializes in helping businesses get high-quality leads, appointments and clients each month in an automated, scalable and profitable way. You can watch his free Masterclass training to learn more.