The Value of Social Media for Small Business Development

 

Social media isn’t just about catching up with old friends and sharing pictures. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, and others offer businesses a cost-effective way to develop and market a brand, attract new clients, and interact with current clients. Regardless of the type of business, chances are that the majority of its current clients have an active social media presence – as does the competition. While an effective social media campaign doesn’t require any financial investment, social media sites can present valuable advertising opportunities. Adding a social media advertisement budget to a small business banking plan has the potential to pay significant dividends.

Social Media – An Overview

The business world was initially hesitant to get involved with social media; early involvement with social media pioneers such as Friendster and MySpace was limited to sporadic advertisement. Early social media platforms focused almost entirely on peer to peer communication, social networking, and dating. Social media giant Facebook, which has almost one billon active users, was one of the first social media sites to actively woo businesses into the fold. The Facebook of today seamlessly integrates businesses and individuals, allowing businesses to communicate, advertise, and network in an organic and unassuming manner.

The Value of Social Media for Small Business DevelopmentKey Benefits of Facebook for Small Businesses

There are few tools that are as effective as Facebook when it comes to reaching a considerable audience with minimal effort. Facebook’s users willingly add specific information about themselves on their page, which allows Facebook to set up pin point accurate advertising. A “pay per click” advertisement will automatically appear for users whose interests are most relevant to the advertiser. Businesses use their Facebook pages to post updates on sales, special events, and other noteworthy information at no cost.  Businesses also use Facebook as a tool to monitor customers’ response to a service or product, providing valuable information on consumers and creating unique communication channels to interact with both current and potential customers.

Key Benefits of Twitter for Small Businesses

Twitter is all about the rapid dissemination of information. A “tweet” is a block of text limited to forty characters or less, creating a message that is easily absorbed by followers. Tweets have the potential to reach a considerable audience, especially in the event that they are reposted or “retweeted”” by recipients, which sends the message to all of their followers as well. Twitter also has advertising options to fit various advertising budgets.

Key Benefits of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the first major social media site that focuses entirely on employment and business related networking. LinkedIn allows users to connect with other professionals and create and join groups relevant to their employment or business. LinkedIn is commonly used to research industry trends, view resumes, find job opportunities, and network with potential clients and vendors. With over 225 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is increasing in popularity. While LinkedIn offers advertisement opportunities and subscription services, most of its applications are free to use.

Not having a social media presence can be a significant handicap for a business. As a zero or low cost tool for wide reaching networking, branding, and communication, a social media budget is a worthwhile addition to any business banking plan.

Article courtesy of Charlie McCartney of The Marketing Robot. Follow him on Twitter @robthemarketer or read his blog for more information on marketing and small business best practices.

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