Social Media for Businesses: Why Do Social Media Marketing for Small Local Businesses?

Wondering why business social media is hot news in the media right now? Here is a balanced view of social media and social media marketing.

Fortunately, whether social media will work for your business starts with a decision that many small businesses have made in recent years. There’s plenty of information to help you decide how social media marketing might work for your business, and whether it’s worth it.

Who is using social networks? Have you launched yet?

Are you using social media marketing strategies and tools to build your local business, to market your products, programs and services, to serve your customers? Your competitors are.

They make sure their clients (and potential clients) are served 24/7 with:

  • Location details, maps, links to websites, and details of services or products on Google.
  • Customer reviews and recommendations on Yelp.
  • Announcements of events, contests and coupons on Facebook.
  • Valuable information and education on their website.

Tough Economic Times for Small Businesses and Local Businesses

These are tough economic times for local small businesses. If you are a small business owner, you may be wondering what to do to find new customers, keep customers coming back, and still have wallet-friendly profit in YOUR pocket. Are you spending money on yellow pages ads, newspaper ads, and running more discounts or sales events than ever before?

More than half of the US economy is powered by small, local businesses. Is your business one of many that spends money on advertising, or is it just getting by on word of mouth marketing, some foot traffic, and the occasional customer who crosses your path because they saw your ad in the “old fashioned” ad? school”.

“Old School Marketing” VS. New media strategies

But while you wait for your “old school” advertising to attract more customers, millions of potential customers have turned to find most of your information online. Your fingers no longer walk in the yellow pages.

Increasingly, your potential customers buy products and services only after being reassured by the recommendations of others, something that online social networking and recommendations presented online offer the discerning shopper.

Small local businesses adopt social media marketing strategies

According to a report released this week by the Small Business Success Index (SBSI), small businesses are increasing their use of social media. Over the past year, the adoption rate has gone from 12 percent to 24 percent, which is double usage.

The report was sponsored by network solutions and the University of Maryland Smith School of Business Center for Service Excellence. He found that small businesses have turned to social media as a result of the economic downturn and are using social media to identify and attract new customers, build brand awareness, and stay engaged with customers.

So now that we’ve come this far, what’s next? As Abby Johnson explains, up to this point, social media has been more about fun than business. Now that the novelty has settled in a bit, Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labsthinks it’s time social media was taken more seriously.

Why participate in social networks? What are the benefits?

There are many ways your small business can benefit from participating in one or more social networking sites. As a business owner you can:

  • Increase awareness
  • Maximize exposure
  • increase credibility
  • Build community and brand loyalty
  • multiply profit
  • Learn more about your customers

What are the drawbacks?

No matter how you market yourself right now, social media is not a perfect marketing or business building vehicle. There are some major drawbacks, including:

It can take a long time.

It can take quite a while each day to participate in social networking sites. The key to success is often the amount of interaction you have with other members of the network. Small business owners typically don’t have hours every day to engage on social networking sites. Posting and commenting on other people’s posts can take up valuable time in a business day.

It can be slow to generate results.

Depending on your goals, the social media route can take a lot of time, effort, and patience. It takes time to build an online network. And, if you’re short on time, the short amount of time you have may mean taking the turtle approach to building a following and boosting your business.

It’s just another marketing tactic to learn and master.

Each marketing tactic you add to your marketing plan is another method to learn and practice. This learning takes time, energy, and sometimes some money. The learning process can be overwhelming, especially if you are short on time, energy, and money.

There are so many options.

With literally hundreds of social networking sites attracting all types of participants, you’ll want to focus on the networks where your efforts will pay off in contact with your target audience for your products or services.

There are good news.

With the right plan and approach, many of these drawbacks can be overcome or eliminated.

Out with the old – in with the new

You have focused your time and money on being a business owner or specialist in your field of practice. Small business failure statistics illustrate that you may not have a grip on your marketing. Even in this economy, 60% of small businesses are spending the same amount on advertising, mostly “old school” marketing (such as print media, business brochures, and cards), and 26% want to spend more. Sixty-nine percent of companies want to spend their money on online marketing.

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