Top 5 Social Media Advantages for Small Business
Social media vs. traditional marketing is a hot topic and one that every business, large or small, needs to consider carefully. There are pros and cons to each style of marketing but today we are going to be walking through the incredible advantages that social media marketing has over traditional media marketing when it comes to small to medium sized local businesses. Among other things social media can provide quality backlinks to your website and web property. Social media for a small business can be like nitrous oxide to a drag car. It is the fuel that will propel you flying past your competition and they won’t understand how you got so far ahead of them! Let’s look at the top 5 social media advantages for small businesses a little more closely and I will break down how the advantages will turn into more profit.
One of the main advantages, and I would argue is the absolute number 1 advantage for small businesses, local businesses, or startups, is the cost of social media. Creating your account is free and setting up a business page is also free. So the cost to set up your online presence on these social networks is free. Let’s compare that to joining a social network at a local chamber of commerce. For me in my area the minimum membership fee is $300 to become an “investor” in my local community. If you own a local business than I wholly support joining these local organizations because they can benefit your business in ways that you won’t be able to understand until you join, but that is a topic for another article. That being said, let’s look at the cost difference. $300 compared to free. So the cost of “opening up shop” so to speak on these social networks online vastly out ways the costs of joining a local social network. Now that we have covered the cost to join networks let’s talk about marketing your business or services using social media compared to traditional media. Social Media is the best avenue of marketing to reach the greatest number of people with the lowest cost. Social Media vastly outproduces traditional marketing in the reach to cost comparison. In a study conducted back in 2010 the average social media marketing cost was just $2 to reach 1000 people. In the same study reaching 1000 cost around $16 for newspaper and magazines, and close to $28 for broadcast TV. This trend is continuing today. What this study doesn’t show you is that social media marketing destroys the competition in control and budget. In those numbers above do you think a broadcast television advertising exec would allow you to spend only $26 because you only wanted to reach 1000 people? Or do you think a newspaper would allow you to spend only $16 on an ad if you only wanted it printed in 1000 copies? The answers to these questions are no. Now, let’s look at those same questions using social media. Would Facebook allow you to set a budget that would allow only 1000 impressions? They sure would. They do it all the time and I have done it for me. Let’s call this a penny saved is a penny earned. You will save a tremendous amount of money and still reach the same amount of people by using social media marketing over traditional marketing.
2. Ability to convert to sales
For the most part people watching TV, reading a magazine, or reading a newspaper aren’t immediately in the buying mood. The point of advertising across these mediums is to create brand awareness. These ads are going to appeal to emotions and memory to try and stick in the consumers mind. The reason they do this is so that the next time the consumer IS in the buying mood for whatever product the ad was for that they will remember these commercials and go with those products. A prime example for this, at least for me, has been the new Old Spice ad campaigns. I think they are hilarious and when I go to buy deodorant or body wash I remember these ads and buy Old Spice. These things work and advertisers have become very adept through market research to find what works. But the difference between these brands and the local restaurant down the road is budget. To get an ad that appeals to your target market and get that ad to be memorable enough to stick in their mind until they are ready to make a purchase is expensive and takes a long time with a lot of professionals. Instead of going this route with your marketing there is another path that is cheaper and easier. Simply target them when the have the means to make a purchase right in front of them. You can do this with social media marketing by placing ads within social media that will take your target audience directly to a sales page featuring the product they just saw advertised. It seems simple, and it really is, to get your targeted audience viewing your ads and them converting them to customers. That is the point of advertising on social media. Sure you can build brand awareness at the same time, but your main goal is to get customers to purchase your product right then and there.
3. Global Reach
When comparing reach of a marketing campaign I am happy to say that social media marketing wins over traditional media marketing again. The internet is big. Like really big. So you can use the huge platform to reach your target audience wherever they might live. If you want to target a specific demographic based on age you can easily do that to say all the Facebook users in a few clicks and your social media marketing campaign will go live to all the Facebook users in that demographic world wide! Can you imagine placing an ad in a newspaper that will reach across the globe? It’s hard to fathom. Obviously there are going to be language issues when doing this but there are solutions for that as well. Translate your ad and run those ads in the geographic area where that language is spoken. That is one solution that will offer you the widest reach. Another solution that will limit your reach a bit, but would be even easier to implement, would be to just restrict your current ad to the users that use Facebook in your native language. So now you have a social media marketing campaign that reaches a targeted demographic in their native language across the whole wide world, that uses your chosen social media of course. To replicate this type of coverage with traditional media with such a focused age demographic would require a lot of time and money to get right across the globe.
4. Instant Communication
We are living in a digital age and that means the ability to communicate instantly. The advantage to this is that you can address your target audiences needs instantly. If you notice a trend that is developing you can create posts and ads quickly to take advantage of the quickly increasing popularity of an issue. You won’t have to wait for the next issue of a magazine to come out to send out your ad copy with social media marketing. You can create and publish your own ad as soon as you have it designed. This can help you hit a fad or new area for growth first and ride the wave to success while your traditional competitors will come in late and miss the boat. What social media marketing can also provide is the ability to respond to your customers complaints immediately. This helps to lessening the negative word of mouth impact and also provides the opportunity to “make it right” quickly. If you can correct an error or make a vocal negative customer happy they will be even more vocal about how your company went above and beyond to meet their needs. This will instantly spread across the social network and will help rather than hurt your business.
5. Audience Engagement and Interaction
Last but certainly not least is the ability to use social media to engage and interact with your customers and target audience. In the example of the upset customer above you can see that social media provided a way for a company to instantly interact with a customer. By harassing and leveraging your social media presence you would have avoided an embarrassing blemish on your reputation. There are several other ways to engage and interact with your audience. Another helpful way is by getting the word out to your followers about a new promotion quickly. If you have a new promotion you can share it with your followers and have them share it with their followers. This gets you free publicity to a wide range of the market. Also, if something becomes a common trend on your social media, such as a common complaint, you realize that perhaps these aren’t isolated incidents and might point to a more systemic problem within your company that would have slipped by you if you didn’t have a way to so readily interact with your audience.
Conclusion of the Top 5 Social Media Advantages
By using social media wisely you can create a great deal of value through it, for your target audience and for you as the business owner. The cost makes it a no-brainer for the small or local business but all businesses should have a presence across a wide variety of social media. Most large corporations understand this by now and several have very excellent social media teams. I personally love Wendy’s Twitter team. For other helpful tips for small and local businesses you can take a look at this article.