Gone are the days when businesses just relied on neon signs, tarpaulins and pamphlets. Since the inception of social networking sites, entrepreneurs harnessed it to maintain business relationships and attract new customers. Marketing has taken on a whole new meaning once social media became prevalent, especially for small businesses.
While it is true that the more people know your business exists, the higher chance you get of being considered to fit consumer’s needs, there is still the matter of being able to establish that you can deliver what you promised you would.
You may be sending hordes of email, tweeting left and right, posting new blogs daily all in the hopes of being noticed by more of your target market but have you measured how much of an improvement your business made since you started marketing online? Trust is and always will be an important factor in a business relationship. Even if you have ten times more followers and friends in Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, there is still no guarantee that all of them will support your business.
Old school marketing has the advantage of effectively building rapport with customers because of face to face encounters. The fact is, most people still have some reservations in trusting someone they “met” over the internet, more so when it comes to business dealings.
So how can social media be effective as a marketing campaign for small business then? The bottom-line is: content relevancy should be proportionate to familiarity. As an entrepreneur, you may already have thousands of followers on Twitter and even more so on Facebook but if what you post is not enough to attract their attention, you may have lost a potential sale.
On the other hand, even if you only have a couple of hundred followers but you are able to capture the attention of even about 90% of them, you may already be well on your way to being a small business magnate.
Setting up accounts on different social media sites and inviting tons of people is just the basic step in online marketing. The key in turning your followers into customers is by engaging them in meaningful conversations. You have to remember that not everything is about you and your business. Even online, you should be able to project the image that your utmost concern is not only to sell but to build a relationship as well.
Business of course, is business but it doesn’t mean that you need to be unresponsive. An influential entrepreneur is one who elicits responses and provides feedback, a person who ensures that their follower’s interest is maintained.
One of the most effective strategies in any endeavor is to build rapport and once you’ve established that, you won’t go wrong. If you have the right strategy for online marketing in place, there is no telling how far you can go and how fast your business can succeed. Small businesses have the potential to make it big using social networking campaigns. It may be time consuming but it is well worth the effort.
Great post on the importance of engaging with followers. One of the most important concepts to remember when marketing online is that people buy from people they Like, Know, and Trust. Relationship building is KEY to using social media for business.
Great post, Amanda!
If you’re not using your social media efforts to establish and build a relationship with your customer, you might as well be scribbling in the sand.
Don’t be afraid to have fun or let your followers have fun. Give them a reason to be there and to come back again. Be real, be timely, and keep your promises. Our experience at Queensboro shows that a friendly, interactive approach not only brings more people to your social media sites, but it also helps build customer loyalty.
Engaging is the next step, but ultimately figure out if you can make a human connection. Is this person local? If so, meet them for coffee. Are they out of the area? Pick up the phone or try Skype. Social media is great, but it’s a means to an end, not an end in itself. You can separate yourself from the crowd by leaving a physical impression on a contact and turn that person into a connection.
I have marketing people trying to sell me ways to be in the top ten when people google certain buzz words. However if none of them contact us, 20,000 hits are worthless. My product has been on the market for over 20 years, yet people do not understand what it is. How do you make these hits turn into contacts, even if it is just going to your web site?