The Alternative Board’s July 2016 Small Business Survey revealed that the majority of business owners (59%) believe “Social media is nice to have, but not essential.” To gauge whether this statement is true, we asked 10 social-media savvy executives why posting, sharing and retweeting is so essential to their business. Here’s what they said:Create an Authentic Presence Online
Kelly McCaughey – Marketing Grey Sky Films
Social media can help attract and engage customers as well as expand and enhance customer relationships that already exist.Different types of businesses benefit from social media in different but equally valuable ways. For example, retail businesses can show off their products thereby supporting sales (sort of like mini-commercials); professional services can use it to share testimonials and client experiences – thereby enhancing customer confidence. Likewise, individuals who are the face of their brand can reinforce that personal connection by sharing content relevant to their client base.Customers value transparency, and social media is a great way to share friendly, casual insights into daily operations, personality or brand culture.
Streamline your Business Development Efforts
John Meetz – President, The Alternative Board South Central Kansas
Social media may be tougher for Baby Boomers than millennials to master, but it’s still essential for every small business – even B2B ones. I use LinkedIn to identify and connect with other Wichita Business Owners and CEOs. It’s an excellent social tool for finding qualified leads/customers. Before getting in touch with a prospect, I like to connect on LinkedIn. That way, they’re more receptive when I initiate a meeting.
Get the Word Out About Your Brand For as Little as $5
Jason Parks – President The Media Captain
Social media is critical for small business owners. Long gone are the days where you have to purchase TV or radio ads. It provides an affordable way to get your message out to your target audience on a shoestring budget.When our agency was featured on the local news, only 4-5 people I know actually saw the news clip on television and contacted me. That being said, when I was being interviewed, someone on my team took pictures and videos that we distributed across our social channels. For $15 in advertising on Facebook, I was able to relay that we were on the news to our followers as well as my friends.
Demonstrate Your Customer Service Savvy
Nick Braun – Founder & CEO, PetInsuranceQuotes.com
Reaching customers and answering prospect questions in a public environment gives you an opportunity to show others how well you treat customers. That attention to detail and care can lead to referral business.
Cultivate an Image
Ariel Nathan – Executive Director, Black Label Innovation
Customers buy from businesses that align with their values. Businesses need to create a brand that has distinct characteristics to differentiate themselves on the market and draw the right customers in. Social media’s most important function is presenting this image across all platforms. Businesses that properly represent themselves have a voice online that shows off their product in a way that interests and excites potential customers.
Become an Industry Expert
Alexander Ruggie – Public Relations Director, 911 Restoration
We have benefited by using social platforms as a way to get our branding message to as many people as possible who might need our services in the future. Our social media manager has grown our audience on all platforms significantly, and just this past week, he grew the Twitter audience to a higher level than all of our competition throughout the country. This has allowed us to become "The Authority" when it comes to advice about home restoration work for the industry.
More to it Than ROI
Marc Joseph – CEO & President, DollarDays International, Inc.
You can't get hung up measuring ROI directly for social media, because if you do, it goes into the failure column. It goes back to the old adage "I know 50% of my advertising is working, just not which 50%!" Social media is like your billboards as you’re driving down the highway. If you can engage a customer in many different spots, you have a chance of them remembering your branding and when it is time to buy, you can be at the top of their mind. The same holds true with social media.
Boost Your SEO
Brett Farmiloe – Founder and Managing Partner, Markitors
While perhaps not the most popular social channel, Google+ directly impacts your organic search rankings. When Google+ first came out, Markitors was very aggressive in acquiring +1's. We amassed 24,000+ followers on our G+ page and saw a rise in our organic search rankings as a result. Today, we usually appear on the first page of Google for a search relating to "digital marketing company," and we think the G+ page has a large part in that.
Focus on One Platform.
Ed Brancheau – President/Owner, Goozleology SEO San Diego
Business owners will find social media ineffective if they’re juggling too many platforms at once. As a small business, you should only focus on the one or two networks that best reach your target customer. Goozleology automatically posts content to the major platforms, but we invest considerable time in cultivating our LinkedIn presence. Since switching our focus from many social platforms to just one, we’ve seen a 600% increase in leads in about 1/5th the time.
Christopher Searles – Owner, Searles Graphics
A business that’s not on social media today is the same as a business 10 years ago without a website or 20 years without a Yellow Pages listing. Can you run a business without being there? Yes. Is it a good idea if you want your business to grow? Absolutely not.
Business owners often miss the importance of social media, because they forget to ask “why” first. In other words, you need to define your goals first and understand why you’re doing it in order to drive a direction and meet your goals.
Yes, many of social media’s benefits are intangible, but that doesn’t mean they’re inconsequential. Regardless of the size or industry of your business, social media provides countless branding, marketing, customer service and sales opportunities – building blocks for startup growth.
If you’re having trouble setting up and managing social media channels or simply finding the time to do so, your business can likely benefit from counseling from The Alternative Board. By joining a local board, you will receive invaluable advice from fellow business owners and certified facilitators on how to manage your time so you can maximize your social media efforts.