Small Businesses Benefit from Social Media
The rapid adoption of the social media is becoming more apparent day by day and has significantly altered the way businesses operate. In the modern world, small business has realized the impact of social media such as twitter and Facebook among others in growing their business (Funk 12). Over the last 10 years, social media have transformed numerous aspects of business activities, especially marketing (Tuten and Michael 37). An immense number of people using social media today have caused many businesses to expand business operations in the ever-expanding social media market field. For instance, Facebook is one of the biggest social platforms in the social media field with approximately 750 million individuals using its services. The number of people using the platform is expected to double the US population, which is currently approximately 370 million (Funk 23). This paper will analyze how different forms of social media can assist marketing of small businesses.
Social media play a pivotal role in marketing and creation of relationships that are beneficial to small business with the consumers. With restricted obstacle to entry, businesses are starting to utilize a social way of marketing strategies (Funk 45). However, many small businesses are striving to use the social media and lack a definitive strategy to effectively utilize the platform for marketing purposes. As a consequence, due to the lack of the fundamental understanding of benefits of the social media and the ways to effectively engage customers, numerous opportunities are missed (Barefoot and Julie 62). Unlike the traditional media, which only offered one-way experiences, social media provide a two-way interaction pathway. Consumers within the social media, unlike customers in outdated media, can relate instantaneously and directly with either the author or the originator of the information, as well as interact with each other (Funk 76). The interaction and cross communication enhanced in the social media makes it possible to use the platform in marketing of the small businesses.
Businesses Nowadays Have More Marketing Opportunities Than Ever
In a small business, marketing largely depends on the personal recommendation from the consumer acquisition. In today’s economy marked by technology, relationships and network favor some of the key characteristics of small and medium businesses (Gratton and Dean 67). Social media permit businesses to network with customers in order to establish connections and achieve a better understanding of the consumer’s demands. It is apparent that the business strives to reach a large number of consumers in order to attract a huge consumer base. Therefore, social media enable small businesses to reach avenues, such as social sites, where many people spend much time networking (Gratton and Dean 77). Social media provide many chances for small business to market their products to the customers and build a close and more lucrative relationship.
A number of marketing opportunities exist in the social media platforms for small business to exploit. Small business largely depended on the word of mouth and networking for marketing. Therefore, not only do owner-managers of small businesses rely on their personal contact network, but they also depend on the networks of their consumers (Tuten and Michael 65). Furthermore, they rely on word of mouth recommendations for the new consumers. Word of mouth marketing via social media offers small businesses an opportunity to offer customers fundamental reasons to discuss and compare their products.
Networking is widely recognized as a marketing action in the small business and is crucial in the formation and growth of the business (Tuten 34). In marketing, small businesses entirely depend on their personal contact networks. Traditionally, economic systems favored larger firms. However, it is possible for small businesses to maintain such marketing contacts through electronic word of mouth passed through social networking sites such as MySpace among others (Tuten 64). Since small businesses rely on personal endorsements for the consumer acquisitions, social media will offer them an appropriate platform to market their products to consumers.
Social media enable firms to engage consumers in a direct and well-timed manner at a comparatively low cost, but with higher levels of effectiveness than traditional communication platforms. Since social networking sites have millions of followers, they form the best platform for small businesses to market their products in very personalized manner that establishes a good business rapport with the consumers (O'Leary, Kim and Sterling 55). Social media sites permit the consumers to follow, like, endorse or friend preferred brands through a post or a comment as a form of engagement. Therefore, through the use of social media sites, small business managers can find research consumers review of the brand as they connect with another consumer (O'Leary, Kim and Sterling 57). As a result, small businesses are able to promote new products and services through consumers via blogging and following. Engagement with consumers online will offer small businesses a chance to use social networking platforms as a tool for their marketing approaches.
Networking and creation of a relationship via online social networking platform increases the business brand exposure. Such platform permits small businesses to make their products visible to the audience, an aspect that has potential to reach thousands or hundreds of consumers. Focus on the relationship rather than sales permits a business to increase its sales. Social media offer businesses an opportunity to engage their audience at different levels, including personal (Slack 15). At the beginning, it is essential for the owner to focus on creating a relationship with the consumer by showing interest in its audience through commenting on the consumer’s individual post or through asking questions. As a result, such gesture exposes the business to the friends, fans and followers thus increasing the business’s reach (Slack 41). Instead of simply posting a message about the business product or services, social media permit the firm to include a photo and request for feedback from the consumer as an aspect that increases it engagement and visibility.
The rapid growth of social media provides small businesses with a chance to initiate or join the online conversation with hundreds of millions of customers around the world using the social networking sites. The word conversation is critical since attracting customers through social media is different from broadcasting of advertisements or using marketing approaches to transform a targeting group of consumers into potential customers (Slack 79). Besides, creating an online conversation requires small businesses to employ a new approach and a set of skills. Social networking sites encourage small business to transform their traditional marketing and focuses on the need to establishing a personalized relationship with the prospective clients with an ultimate goal of developing and deepening the relationship between the business and the customers (Barefoot and Julie 113). Consequently, a customer develops a sense of trust and understanding of the company’s product in an easy way through interaction with the business representative on the social networking sites.
It is apparent that many customers feel connected with the company when they have direct communication on an ongoing basis and through provision with an opportunity to express their opinions. Consequently, such customer becomes more likely to engage with such business due to the nature of interactions (Evans17). Furthermore, social networking conversation is credited with the creation of the level of immediacy and public intimacy that is impossible through the traditional marketing. Besides, small businesses are largely perceived by public as relatively faceless. However, social networking sites offer such businesses a chance to establish a human face through social media representative (Evans 32). Such individuals establish and nurture person-to-person conversations that build trust in the company’s authenticity as well as professionalism.
Furthermore, social networking sites offer small businesses space that is unavailable in any other public platform. It permits small enterprises to monitor the public opinion of their products, brand and services in a real-time basis (Tuten and Michael 42). As a result, companies have an opportunity as well as responsibility of providing quick and effective response, especially when a negative perception goes viral through the social media world. This is possible since social media provide businesses with the prospective to add a personal touch to their profiles, thus permitting them to target audience and get better understanding of the services and business model in the process (Tuten and Michael 51). Small businesses get values from a well-executed social media marketing campaign since each profile offers a medium for an increased exposure of the business brand.
In conclusion, it is evident that in the modern environment driven by social media, it is essential for small businesses to understand Facebook, Twitter, and the strategies behind the application of the social media (Slack 66). Through the use of this mostly controlled medium, small businesses will have the opportunity to communicate with a wide range of consumers. This will permit the firm to expand its business operations environment. Furthermore, it is essential to note that keeping the community informed through social media about the product and services not only offers qualified leads, but also spreads a positive word of mouth throughout the community (Funk 48). Therefore, it is evident that in the rapid changing world of business, it is essential for small businesses to incorporate social media platform in their marketing strategies.
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