"Here is the secret of inspiration. Tell yourself that thousands and tens of people, not very intelligent and certainly no more intelligent than the rest of us, have mastered problems as difficult as those that now baffle you." - William Feather, Dale Carnegie's Scrapbook.
Many of the people I know in Pittsburgh and in other cities across the country own small businesses. After owning my own business and having exposure to the battlefield of brand building, I thought I'd put together a post about why it's important for start-ups and small businesses to use social media.
1. Exposure. Exposure is exposure, and while the ROI (return on investment) with social media isn't blatantly obvious, that first small impression makes the second impression stand out, and by the third you might even have a client stop in your shop. According to MediaBistro.com 80% of customers prefer to connect themselves to brands through social media. 86% of referrals come from Facebook alone. Lastly, according to this very informative info-graphic by the Institute for Public Relations, 2 in 5 social media users have purchased a product online or in a store after sharing or favoriting it on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.
2. Affordability. Social media campaigns are affordable when compared to traditional advertising avenues. Mailers are expensive and simply don't have the effect they did 20 years ago. Unless you are mailing out programming schedules or invites to an already loyal following you are better suited to throw that dough at some sponsored Facebook ads. A strong social media campaign is going to take a lot of time but with the right direction and routine one can be interacting and meeting new clients in just a few days of starting a business page or Twitter account. The key is directed digital marketing.
Here's an interesting article in the Guardian with some examples of how businesses are using social media.
3. Brand Personification. For the first time in history, brands are able to have a literal voice. Business owners are curating their own messages, responding to complaints and compliments publicly, all the while promoting their products and company on a measurable scale. Followers create measurable impressions just as a billboard would. And, with the use of proper analytic tools, business owners are able to see who is visiting their site, from where and how long they are staying there.
4. Community. Businesses are not only engaging with their clients, but are inspiring one another. There is renaissance of innovative collaboration happening in the world today. It is fair to assume that some of this is the result of social spaces. Kickstarter alone has funded the beginning of many businesses and projects. Take Pittsburgh's example of local chef Kevin Sousa's upcoming restaurant, Superior Motors where the community donated over $300,000 to his project.
5. Market Testing. Want to know if your clients like a product idea? Are you thinking about expanding your current space or opening up a second location? These are the sort of questions you can ask, debate and ultimately learn from the market through your social media handles. On the other side of the coin, social media allows you to track competitors, gauge where you stand, and identify any holes or improvements in your brand message.
Are you a small business owner? Please share your experiences with social media in the comment section, tweet me @lucurates or email firstname.lastname@example.org.