Small Business Owner: Why Use Social Media?

If you are thinking about using social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as part of your marketing strategy, you are in good company. Statistics show that 75 percent of small businesses now use social media to attract new customers, according to a recent media study by The University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.

If you do not use social media, you might be wondering, ‘why does a (insert your industry) business need social media?’

Throw out the Phone Book – Your Customers Have!

More and more it is beginning to appear that small businesses can’t afford not to use social media to engage clients. It’s not that a lack of social media means your business is doomed. It’s that your competitors will be using social media, and you won’t. They’ll have a new medium to reach customers, but you’ll be left behind putting ads in the phone book.

The statistics speak for themselves. Nearly 50% of small businesses report successfully connecting with new customers through social media networks. On Facebook alone, 69% reported receiving customer recommendations through the site, and 62% of those using LinkedIn and 44% of those on Twitter said they received customer recommendations through those sites.

That’s because people are using the internet–and social media–to find businesses. Nearly a quarter of all Internet usage is on social media sites, and 75% of households use social media, according to the Nielson Company’s 2011 social media report. With those numbers, it’s easy to see how sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn enhance a small business’ ability to expand and retain customers.

Why the Hard Sale Hardly Sells

Even if you decide to utilize social media, it’s not enough to throw a quick Facebook page together, put it online and expect a thousand followers by lunch. Effective social media marketing is about engagement, speaking to clients and potential clients about your business–without pitching a hard sell.

Why no hard sell? Your fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter aren’t on those websites to listen to an advertisement. They are there for interaction with their friends and to check up on the places where they hang out, shop and dine. When you engage fans and followers without a sales pitch, you are interacting with them, and–if you are doing it effectively–gaining clientele through the interaction.

Fans + Followers = Customers

The point is simple: gain followers online, and gain customers in real life. Don’t believe it? Statistics show that 51 % of Facebook users, and 64 % of Twitter users are more likely to buy from brands they follow on the social networking sites.

Of course, statistics aren’t the only story. Take Gary Vaynerchuk, co-owner of a New Jersey-based wine retail store. The business was worth about $4 million when he began engaging clients through social media. The takeaway? Vaynerchuk managed to transform earnings to $50 million through social media alone.

To read an infographic on these statistics, visit: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20113116-93/how-small-biz-uses-social-media-infographic/

To see the Nielson Company’s 2011 social media report, visit: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2012/state-of-the-media-the-social-media-report-2012.html

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