Small and mid-sized businesses are lagging when it comes to Internet innovation, says a new study released by Forrester and commissioned by Act-On Software. Among other findings, the study observed that SMBs still cite “old-world” marketing approaches such as personal relationship networking, trade shows and in-person events among their top five tactics for generating new revenue.
The continued importance of traditional marketing approaches makes sense to me. As I’ve noted in a recent blog post on social media, though, the rewards of using social media are very real, too. Indeed, studies have shown that social networks engender trust, which in turn translates into a greater level of branding and goodwill than what the marketing budgets of most SMBs can realistically deliver through traditional channels.
Before proceeding though, it is crucial to get the number one misconception of social media out of the way. For one, social media doesn’t translate into “free,” given that properly executing a social media strategy takes time. And we all know that time translates into money.
Moreover, it may cost real money, too, depending on any contests, giveaways and follow-up events that the marketing team may put together. You can read more about this and other important facts pertaining to social media that I’ve outlined in a slideshow titled “Seven Truths About Social Media.”
For now, I’ve outlined a trio of quick tips below for small and mid-sized businesses looking to hop onto the social media bandwagon. Feel free to chip in with your own tips or comments below.
There is no need to waste time setting up accounts across 10 different social networks. Small businesses starting out for the first time will do well by focusing on the top two or three out there, which in my book would be Facebook and Twitter, followed closely by Pinterest. Note that having key employees update their LinkedIn profiles can help to establish the overall expertise and legitimacy of a business, too.
It is important to understand that social media is about engagement, not just enabling an account or setting up a fan page. The absence of regular updates is immediately evident to visitors, and can result in a counterproductive effect that is detrimental to the brand of the company.
Finally, like it or not, complainers are bound to surface on social media networks. Make sure you address their grievances — perceived or legit — swiftly. Take it offline where possible; most will be more than happy to comply as long as someone is listening.