Small business owners and entrepreneurs that have yet to take advantage of the myriad social media outlets available to them to drive traffic and increase revenues had best shake themselves from their stupor. For, if they don’t, their rivals will, most assuredly, leave them in the proverbial dust.
For those who remain skeptical of this movement toward social media, consider the 2009 book by blogger extraordinaire Erik Qualman. The book entitled: Socialnomic: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, uncovered some remarkable findings considering the current state of social media and the world. Currently, he is the Global Vice President for Online Marketing for EF Education which is based in Switzerland.
Here are just a few of the remarkable findings, updated for 2012, presented by Qualman:
- Generation Y now outnumber the Baby Boomers and 97% of them are engaged in social media.
- For the first time ever, social media has become the number one online destination and overall activity for people around the world.
- Half of the population of the Earth, that’s right – 50% of all humans living on the planet, is under 30 years old.
- Within ten years, half of the current Fortune 500 will be gone and replaced.
- If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest with a population nearly triple that of the United States.
- More e-reader devices are now being sold than actual books. – LinkedIn signs up a new member every second.
- Ford Motor Company’s marketing division actually discovered that launching their new Ford Explorer SUV on Facebook was more effective than running a Super Bowl commercial.
- In the time it takes you to finish reading this sentence, over one hundred hours of video will have been uploaded to YouTube.
As with just about everything, there are certain fundamentals that apply across the board whether a business decides to market on Facebook and Google + or with YouTube and Pinterest. Some of the basic fundamentals include:
- Content, content, content. This is the mantra of the social media marketing jungle that you will most often hear and ignore at your eventual demise. Fresh, relevant, and engaging content at your site is what will drive traffic and keep those potential customers and clients coming back.
- Establish that fine line between communicating, and building customer and brand loyalty, with unwanted, unsolicited and constant advertising for your products or services. Be engaging through your content rather than arrogant and self-centered.
- Never ignore any bad comments or press you may receive. Be ready to stand up and answer. It works out best in the long run for you with regard to audience respect. Also, have a firm plan in place that will measure the effectiveness and ROI of any social media strategy.
- Never ignore your followers. There are too many alternatives out there and your followers will leave you if you do not remain engaged. Keep up with them, engage them, and use them to buy and promote your brand. Persuade them to action. Get them to sign up for newsletters, engage in contests and promotions, read riveting content and encourage their feedback. They are your most valued asset when it comes to determining what may or may not be working for you.
The advent of social media marketing has allowed the playing field to be leveled as, maybe for the first time, the little guy can compete effectively against established rivals.
Since 2009, starting with just a small pushcart, Curtis Kimball of San Francisco became known as The Crème Brulee Man as he has traveled around in his food truck serving crème brulee to the people of greater San Francisco. He loved the food service business and wanted to expand his operation to the point where he would be able to quit his job a carpenter to pursue his dream.
He knew that he would be easily overrun by his major competitors as their advertising and marketing budgets could drive him out of business. As social media began to make its presence felt, Kimball decided to take a chance on Twitter with what he believed a sound marketing strategy. Kimball admitted early on that he knew nothing of social media in general or Twitter in particular. But, he had his dream and was determined to make it work.
He opened a Twitter account and began to tweet his upcoming locations to any one he hoped would bother to follow his tweets. Wherever he stopped, he would engage his customers, and the surrounding crowds, letting them know that they had to follow him on Twitter to know where he will be in the future. The strategy paid off as Kimball now has over garnered over 20,000 loyal followers, in less than three years, who check his tweets on a regular basis.
Social media marketing has truly begun to make its presence felt and has become an important weapon in the arsenal of small businesses and has proven that it cannot only be effective in driving new business but can actually enable a small business to gain market share over larger and better financed rivals.
By Kevin Sawyer