Social media is a great tool for SMEs – as long as it is used correctly.
It can be tempting to push products and services to a social media fanbase, but go too far and it could end up alienating them.
Small businesses need to use Google+, Facebook and Twitter to build relationships with customers, helping to bolster their loyalty and, in return, leading to higher sales and profits. This is a more favourable route to take than trying to more obviously push sales.
"Those companies that are benefiting from social media understand that it's a way of engaging with their market, establishing rapport and developing a lasting relationship with the consumer. It's the relationship that will draw in new customers and then bring them back time and again – to you and not your competition," My Media Management partner Jennifer Stenhouse explained.
Another way SMEs can use social media is to garner customer feedback to use for research and development. This will not only prove useful for a business, but shows shoppers that their opinions are valued and listened to. By streamlining a service or product portfolio to want customers want, sales can be improved.
How to interact on social media
ContentPlus recently highlighted the example of Cadbury using social media to listen to what customers want, which in turn saw the re-launch of the Wispa Gold. Sales of the chocolate bar soared and the brand has used its Google+, Twitter and Facebook pages to launch other products, such as Bitsa Wispa.
SMEs should also offer exclusive sneak peeks at products and services, discounts and other content to their loyal social media fans. As part of their content marketing strategies, they should share their website's blogs and articles on their brand pages. Having a comment system in place is also a great way people can leave feedback and ask questions.
The more interaction a brand's social media page has, the more likely it is a SME will also appear in search results. While Google's algorithm provides weight to companies with a strong social media presence, especially on Google+, Microsoft Bing has also become more social, particularly towards Facebook.
Social media's main benefits are therefore:
• Improved customer loyalty
• Deeper consumer insights
• Enhanced visibility in search engine results
• Higher sales and profits
What benefits has your small business seen as a result of your social media efforts?