Despite its meteoric rise to cultural ubiquity in the last decade or so, social networking’s potential as a marketing tool is still frequently ignored, or poorly utilised. Indeed, as some larger companies have discovered time and time again, social networking presents a number of particularly unique ways to promote a particular businesses products or services; and due to the methodology and techniques involved, can serve as a particularly easy way for young, up and coming, business owners and entrepreneurs to expand the size and reach of their fledgling enterprise.
Low cost advertising with a wide reach
One of the primary advantages of social media, for use by young business owners, is that it allows a wide audience to be reached for a minimal cost. Indeed, if you were to ignore premium analytical add-ons and paying for advertising, the only real cost incurred in utilising a thorough social media marketing plan is time; and the returns can be huge.
Combined with the low cost of social media marketing, the breadth of the audience that you’ll be able to reach through such a platform is its main draw. Facebook alone boasted 1,317,000,000 worldwide monthly users in the second quarter of 2014, while Twitter had 271,000,000 worldwide monthly users in the same time period. Compared with the cost of other comparable digital marketing strategies, such as an email marketing campaign, the correct usage of social media offers a tremendous amount of potential, at the cost of some time and diligence.
Build and strengthen your customer base/audience
This is the most basic way in which social media can be leveraged to support a business’ growth: increase the social media visibility of your business via social media. The biggest risk to a small business is obscurity; you want as many people aware of your operation, or better yet, actively talking about your business. Connect to the right people in your respective industry and start a dialogue; and soon you’ll have people and businesses talking about and to you.
Competitions and challenges are also an excellent way to increase engagement across social networks; everyone loves a competition, especially if the prize is particularly exciting. Even those who are otherwise uninterested in your business and its products and services are more likely to engage with you socially through competitions, spreading knowledge of your existence further around the social media network. Any engagement increases your reach, regardless of whether the specific person sharing actually intends to utilise your services.
The most important thing to remember here is that consistency is key. If you only logon to Facebook or Twitter when you specifically need to promote a certain event, or success that you’ve had, you aren’t doing enough; a constant stream of updates is important to maintain your legitimacy and presence.
Efficient Customer service channel
Reputation is everything in today’s interconnected world; if consumers and other businesses are upset with the service that they have received from your company, future prospects and current clients may be scared off by reports of poor service or inconsistent delivery of projects. While larger companies can afford to have a certain degree of negativity aimed at them and still maintain similar levels of success; negative online public sentiment directed at smaller companies can have a catastrophic effect.
This all means that reputation management is essential for young entrepreneurs; trust and loyalty must be maintained with both present and future clients. Social media is increasingly becoming the forum that consumers use to complain about a company’s service, or lack thereof. While you may not be able to necessarily solve every problem that comes your way, it’s important to be seen to be making an effort. The cardinal sin when it comes to customer service on social media is ignoring complaints; almost anything is better than silence.
Connect with, influence and be inspired by similar businesses
Social media isn’t all about just managing your own reputation, it’s also about learning how to improve your business, utilising the experience and advice of others figures and organisations in your chosen industry. Many people freely share wisdom and tips on their social media accounts anyway, but engaging with and asking questions of those with influence and authority in your chosen field is a good way to get further inspiration for your business, as well as making new contact amongst your industry peers.
When leveraged in the right way social media can be an extremely effective tool for promoting and expanding small businesses, and is an essential marketing method for young entrepreneurs to utilise. This advice was brought to you by Jack Cooper, writing for Ashridge Business School; teaching people how excel at business in an ever-evolving professional world.