Can Local Businesses Really Benefit From Social Media? If Yes, How?
Posted on November 6, 2013
Filed Under Brand Building, Content Marketing Strategy, Facebook, General, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Networking, Social Networks, Traffic Building, Twitter
Local business owners are constantly assessing whether or not social media is a rewarding promotional vehicle. In most cases, the dilemma stems from the fact that successful social media marketing costs but there is clear evidence that businesses have been propelled forward using social media because consumers gravitate to these channels of communication.
As a business owner, you want eyeballs on your products and services. According to this list of the most popular websites worldwide, clearly the social networks including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are where the large swaths of consumers are.
The Value of Social Media for Local Businesses
The social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest have huge volumes of visitors. Of course, just because a social network has millions of users does not mean that it’s an estimable tool for business promotions. There is a valid criticism that for some types of business promotions, the social networks and the activities taking place on them are not serviceable. With that said, there are a few other arguments against social media for local businesses.
1. No Real Sales
Businesses usually don’t see direct sales from social media marketing activities. People use the social sites to find products and services. There is no real purchase intent involved.
2. No Real Traffic
Work and content invested in social media is a lot like “sharecropping.“ There is not much traffic that gets referred from the social sites to websites.
However, what you need to realize is this:
– Business promotion is by nature ephemeral work. The benefit lasts for only a limited period of time whether it’s on the social networks or offline. For example, you could set up shop in a neighborhood someday and after a couple of months, the road infrastructure changes and traffic is directed away from your district.
– And secondly if you are not getting real sales and enough site traffic from the social networks, you are probably not doing your social promotion right.
The Benefits of Social Media for Local Businesses
In addition to the obvious benefits of social media including the traffic and sales prospects that the social networks lend to your site, there are other substantial arguments for social media marketing.
1. From an SEO Perspective
Activities on the social media networks generate social signals that can help sites rank better in the SERPs. Both Google and Bing acknowledge that social signals are now important ranking factors in their search algorithm mix.
2. Proactive ORM
Activity on some of the more popular social media networks provides your business with leverage and safeguards your reputation. For example, say a prospective customer Googles your business name, your social profiles and status updates are more likely to rank in Google’s search results over negative webpages from dissatisfied customers and competitors.
3. Social Media Makes You more Available
Through social media, you can increase your business reach and impact by maintaining a presence in social circles where your prospective customers are. With Facebook’s new Graph Search feature, for example, people can now look you up and see what other people in their social milieu are saying about you. Being available online is important.
How to Draft a Social Media Strategy for Your Local Business
It’s time to face the facts marketers! Businesses all over the world are leveraging the power of social media. What are you doing?
Did you know?
– 46% of online users consult the social networks before making a purchase
– 50% of shoppers make a purchase following a recommendation on the social sites
– And 71% of social media users are more likely to buy from a business they are connected to via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other social network.
1. Add Real Value
If you are investing in social media marketing, you might as well make the most of your marketing efforts. Invest in content that your fans and followers will find informative, helpful and entertaining. This includes but is not limited to:
– How-to articles
– Webinars and podcasts
– Product reviews and ratings
– Video tutorials
2. Share Your Content at the Right Times
People on the different social sites are active at different times of the day. On Facebook, people are mostly active between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. On Twitter, you want to share content between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. On Google+, people are active between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Again, this depends on various factors, so experiment and see what works best for your business.
3. Ask Questions
To encourage engagement on the social sites, spark conversations by asking open-ended questions and questions about your industry. This is the best way to get your audience buzzing.
4. Use Social Media for Customer Support
Online customers expect businesses to provide customer support on the social sites like Facebook. Use social media to ask your customers for feedback and to provide efficient customer support.
5. Be Adventurous
There are many social networks over the web today, some more popular than others. Depending on where your audience is, you should pick the networks that make the most sense for you. Remember that each social network offers a different experience and this is something you can take advantage of.