There was a time just a decade ago when a small or even mid-size business could get back with a simple website and no social media participation. However, those days are long gone. Today’s websites must be responsive and functional, and social media is increasingly important to the success of SMBs of all types and across all industries.
As social media becomes more important, there are more and more players vying for the role of intermediary between you and your customers. While Facebook remains the champ for SMB marketing, it is followed closely by Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. While that is the case today, new players such as Instagram and Pinterest are gaining ground, while YouTube occupies a space all its own in the video aspect of social media platforms.
While most small and local businesses have accepted the reality of the need to monitor and use social media, it is an increasingly daunting task. The majority of SMBs spend between 3 and 10 hours a week on their social media efforts, and that number is steadily climbing. At the same time, these owners and managers are concerned about what platforms are their best investments. Facebook is being aggressive in its initiatives to protect its position, and this site seems to be the favorite for the coming months.
Social Media Driving Website Traffic
Another important factor for SMBs is the role social media plays in driving traffic to company websites. With the new ways these platforms are integrating marketing with their content more and more users use them as a different form of search engine to find products and services they desire.
The significant factor for you to understand about the use of social media is the importance of long-term consistency and active involvement. Where you can somewhat get away with a website that is not updated regularly, that simply won’t work with social media. The very name social implies this reality, the expectation that there is a two-way conversation that is more than mere marketing and advertising.
One of the greatest hurdles for many SMB marketers is grasping the economics and payback of social media. Since it takes an investment of time, many marketers and business owners begrudge the time it takes to actively participate in the space. However, since the participation is largely free and the ads are relatively inexpensive, it is important to look at the time spent as equal to (or more important than for some) sales calls and prospecting.
The key to gaining this appreciation is effective use of the many metrics and analytics that are now available. If you can tie your website visits and increased sales to those social media platforms, you will be more likely to appreciate its importance and the ROI it provides.
With as many as 80 percent of all first-time contacts with a local business coming from mobile devices and roughly half of those via social media, the trend is clear. Dealing with this powerful marketing medium is a necessary part of every company’s growth strategy.
David helps small business owners find their digital place online. Say hi on twitter @neoblog