Breaking into a market can be hard for any company, new or old. Traditionally, to really make a splash you need a strong ad campaign that almost always resulted in a high budget and air time costs. Even in todays market, a lot of those truths are still standing, but luckily businesses have new options for marketing. Along with social media’s boom cam the birth of social marketing. Essentially this is exactly how it sounds; using social media to promote your business and services. Social marketing might not be for everyone, but for those that can utilize it can do some really impressive things to boost their brand awareness. Even large corporations are benefiting from a social presence, but the real benefit is for small businesses looking to take their brand to a new level.
Gaining Brand Awareness
What is most beneficial for small businesses is when they can actually build a brand that is recognizable and means something to the public. That is where a huge print and TV ad campaign would come in traditionally. It is why so many local brands and businesses have had unsuccessful marketing in past decades. With social media, as long as you have a brand (and something to represent it like a logo) than go can take to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or any other social platform, and there you are. You have millions of possible connections, and a represented brand. If you’re logo is set as your profile picture, or is somewhere present, then people will notice it and recognize it in an offline world as well.
As for commercials and video marketing, this has also changed. Not only has this changed with the advent of cheaper, high quality video equipment (look at HD DSLRs etc.), but this has also changed because of access to broadcast. What this means is that with services like YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, among others, you have a broadcast channel to send your message out to. Again, with the ability to customize those channels, you get more brand awareness by using logos and branded imagery on your site. Having a potential market like the internet is something that people used to pay millions for a campaign to reach. While it is not a given everyone will see your video, it is still a huge potential market, and if you create quality content, you will be recognized. You can then take those messages to your other social accounts to bring it to your market (your followers, Facebook connections, etc..) It is amazing what you can do with these channels.
Who Needs Social Media?
The fact is most people can, and do, benefit from social media. A lot of corporations and large businesses use social campaigns to launch new products and services. For instance DirecTV is launching their DirecTV Genie service, and you can bet they will be pushing it on their social account with Facebook ads and promoted tweets. Of course, these aren’t viable options for every small business, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t have great success. For an company that is service or product oriented, having a social presence is very important. Say you’re a crafts person and using Etsy as your “marketplace.” Having the ability to share your work and “store-front” with your followers is key to converting sales. You can have people share your work with their networks, and that is a quick way to spread your brand.
What about a service driven company? What works with social media in this area is that you can get feedback. There are numerous examples of local book-stores coffee-shops and even city tourist departments that use the feedback they get online to craft the way they do business. Followers on Facebook can write on their wall or tweet at them positive compliments, or areas in which they think they can improve. As a service provider you can even put out a call to action for responses about how you’re doing as a business. This information that is provided in return is like having your own case study, but without having to pay for the study. It is a way to save money as improve your business without having to break the bank on huge marketing campaigns.
When it comes down to it, all businesses can benefit from having a social media presence. Even if it’s just an account that periodically sends out information, having an online presence is crucial for surviving in the current marketplace. On the other hand, if you’re a small business that provides a product or service, you can most definitely excel with the use of social media. Having the ability to build and spread your brand is invaluable, not to mention the feedback you have access to. Connecting with customers and clients on a personal level like that will increase your business and your reputation. So if you’re decided whether or not to take your business to social media, the answer is almost always going to be a resounding “YES!”
Peter is a social media and small business blogger, and often writes about utilizing social media for business growth. He currently resides in North Carolina and is a media professional.