OK… first things first. Is it worth it for a small ‘B2B’ business spending the time and effort required to get into social media? The answer is a clear ‘Yes’, with the following provisos –  you have to do it properly (which I will discuss in a future post), and  you can’t view it as a replacement of your other marketing activities, but more as a supplement to enhance your other efforts.
So let’s discuss 5 reasons why small businesses can no longer ignore social media as a legitimate marketing tool:
1. Increases awareness of your brand
Depending on the industry you work in, you need your name to be ‘out there’ in the marketplace so that people can find you and know what products or services you offer. In many ways, this is one of the primary benefits of social media marketing for small businesses who may not have the manpower or funds to contact every business in their potential target market personally. The act of ‘Following’ another account and occasionally ‘Liking’ some of their posts means that you appear in their notifications – so they have seen your business name, even if they don’t choose to return the follow. Also, once you do have a few followers, your account will appear in the suggestions of their followers, and so on and so forth…
2. It’s free, and doesn’t need to take up too much time
It costs nothing to set up these accounts and to be reasonably active. There isn’t a lot of marketing activity that you can involve yourself with that doesn’t actually cost you, so social media marketing really does weigh up well from a cost-benefit analysis point of view. And you can often do this work in ‘down time’… so either when things are quiet or when you are ‘off duty’. WARNING: Social media can be addictive, and any benefits that come from marketing this way may take some time. So I am not suggesting you drop everything and spend hours each week focusing on this… (more about that later)
3. Assists your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
One thing most small businesses want to know is how to increase their visibility in search engine results. Apart from the obvious paid services (such as Google Adwords), having a well set up website, connected social media accounts and regularly adding relevant content can make a considerable difference. Also, using hashtags and mentioning collaborative businesses in your posts will also increase the volume of content that search engines trawl through to achieve results. Again – this is not an instant fix, but its something you can do (for little outlay) that can help boost your business.
4. It can be a form of customer referral marketing
If you are selling products or equipment to other businesses, posting pictures of your success stories (preferably with the permission of the business) is a passive form of customer referral marketing. Your work is also seen in the context of your local business community. And often your post can act as a form of collaborative marketing – a positive reference to your client’s business. This can assist in getting your client to ‘follow’ you and ‘like’ your posts… which is also a way to strengthen your working relationship with them.
5. Provides you with opportunities to network with local business & industry groups
You have a genuine interest in seeing local businesses that you work with succeed – for one thing, it helps you stay in business! So taking the time to search out local business organisations, councils and other community groups on social media, following them and liking/commenting on appropriate content that they post will demonstrate your interest.
I hope these few pointers help you to understand that social media isn’t a gimmick – its a new communication tool that small businesses do well to take advantage of.