Business owners around the world have been facing challenging times over the last few months.
Lockdowns have taken away the regular foot traffic that many businesses have relied on for years. Although we’re all hoping that things can get back to normal as quickly as possible, there is now an opportunity to check how we conduct business. More importantly, how we can make improvements going forward.
The key to a successful business is building brand awareness. A brick and mortar business on the high street will achieve this as consumers pass the building and see that you have a solution to one of their problems.
If the local community are aware that you sell ink cartridges, for example, they’re more likely to buy one from you when they need to print a document.
Problems start to arise when there is a weak link in the process. If potential customers don’t know about your business, they won’t be visiting your workplace to pay for a product or service. Likewise, if customers can’t physically reach your premises then it’s going to be more difficult to sell them something.
Small businesses need to be on the radar of potential customers outside of the foot traffic of the high street. A great way to do this is to take advantage of the power social media.
Why is social media important to small businesses?
We’ve established that brand awareness is a must-have when it comes to increasing the chances of success as a small business. But what does that have to do with social media? Well, the figures for Facebook speak for themselves.
● 2.41 billion monthly active users
● Third-most visited website in the world
● Fifth-most downloaded free app
● 71% of adults use the network
● 74% of users log in daily
What these figures show is that we’re living in a world that is dominated by online activity. When people are at home, they’re using desktop computers, laptops, and tablets.
When they’re out of the home, they’re using their phones. Your potential customer-base is plugged in and ready to engage with you around the clock. If we ignore this, we’re cutting off clear line of sight to increased business performance.
What are the benefits of social media to small businesses?
One of the problems many businesses face is that they don’t understand how to take advantage of social media. Many will tell you that they’ve already set up businesses page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other outlets.
Yet, a quick look at the account will usually show a neglected page with a couple of random posts, months apart, about a new product or other such services.
The great thing here is that the business has acknowledged the fact that it’s a good idea to have a social media presence. All that needs to happen at this point is to refocus how to make use of the account to improve the business going forward.
Increasing brand awareness
Over the years, people have come to realise that brand awareness is an important factor to business growth. This isn’t just something for small businesses to consider. Think about the kind of advertising you see on television, at the cinema, on billboards and so on.
They’re dominated by companies such as Virgin, Coca Cola, McDonald’s, and other money-making machines that everybody already knows about.
The key here is placing your business in the minds of potential customers as much as possible. Of course, it costs a lot of money for a slot on television or to have an advert in the local newspaper, but that’s where social media comes into play.
The great thing about setting up a social media account for your business is that it is free. Sure, you can spend money on advertising your page but it’s certainly not something that you have to do to be successful.
By posting regularly on social outlets, you’ll be able to advertise your business without having to spend any money. Free exposure is a no-brainer.
One of the advantages of small businesses using social media is that it provides an opportunity to show yourself to the local community. It’s no secret that people are more inclined to part with their money if they feel that your business matches their values.
By posting regularly on your social accounts, potential customers are likely to respond to you in the comment sections. This presents an opportunity for you to interact with people and to show them what you’re all about. You’re building connections with individuals, that may later translate into increased sales.
Improved customer service
Maintaining an excellent level of customer service is also an important aspect of a successful business. Smaller businesses have an advantage because they can provide a personalised customer service experience.
This isn’t always as easy within a larger business. They often outsource this work, including their social media and this can sometimes create a more robotic-feeling response to enquiries or complaints.
By making use of social media, you have an opportunity to personally respond to enquiries or comments. People feel valued by you and are more likely to become customers. You’re also creating an opportunity for onlookers to see how you operate at the same time.
Keeping ahead of the competition
Although it’s important to focus on your own business, there are clear advantages to trying to stay one step ahead of the competition. At the very least, you don’t want your business to be a few steps behind others.
If you have two businesses in the same area that deal with similar products or services, the one with a strong social media presence is likely to perform better. This is due to increased brand exposure and community engagement.
Ultimately, social media is something that all businesses should be involved in. Before getting started on your business social media accounts, it’s important to think about which direction to take.
There are lots of different social outlets to make use of, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. but it can be difficult to maintain all of them if you’re busy with other tasks.
Decide where your target audience is likely to be and get to work on that outlet first. Once you’re comfortable with one then it can be worth experimenting with some of the others.
You can find out more about where your customers are online in this blog post here.