Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should focus on engaging with people who connect with them on social media.
Consumers want to create relationships with brands on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, so companies aim to increase interaction, according to new research.
Chadwick Martin Bailey and Constant Contact found consumers follow businesses on Twitter in order to get access to exclusive information and promotions, while there is a link between social media interaction, recommendations and conversions.
Following a brand on Twitter makes the majority of people more likely to recommend it to their friends.
Twitter and Facebook offer a great opportunity for companies to "listen, learn and engage" with their customers, according to Chadwick Martin Bailey's Kristen Garvey.
Mark Schmulen of Constant Contact, added that the quality of relationships on Twitter is high: "Consumers are selective as to which brands they follow, but they are extremely loyal to those that they do follow."
More people are using Twitter to connect with brands, with one in three respondents saying they interacted more with companies on the platform in the last year.
However, Mr Schmulen suggested that with increased participation, social media users have become more selective about the type of content they want to see on Twitter and Facebook.
He said SMEs should do more than broadcast content and talk at their followers, because what customers want now is "interactive content" and to converse with the real people behind brands.
"More than ever, marketing is about building relationships and Twitter is a great channel for this type of two-way interaction," Mr Schmulen concluded.
Small business social media
For SMEs, getting started on Twitter can be a daunting prospect. However, one of the benefits of social media is that it is free to use and so does not require a big upfront investment. They can therefore start small and gradually allocate more time and resources to their social media strategy.
One of the first things SMEs need to do when joining Twitter is to create a handle – or username – before they can start tweeting. Read more about how to choose a small business Twitter handle on the ContentPlus blog.