Conducting business through social media is a big departure from the traditional way of doing business, and in so many ways this departure is also a perfect opportunity for small businesses to carve their niche and grow their business in a revolutionary manner.
A paradigm shift of sorts, social media for small business is gaining slow yet steady acceptance. Many businesses are still skeptical, but many more are already reaping the rewards of fishing the untested waters of social media for small business.
Social media redefines the way businesses deal with their customers because social media has changed the customers itself. Social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook make it possible for users to conduct social activities online, such as posting and receiving social messages, establishing social networks, all the while transcending time zones and geographical locations. Users’ socialization behavior and expectations changed as a result.
Using social media for small business must therefore take into account this change in customers, in order for the business to adapt agilely to the change. Below are some ways that business should transform, in order to stay relevant:
1. Establishing two-way relationships with customers
Social media for small business discards the old school method of a top-down marketing deployment, wherein a handful of key business people plan a campaign, talk to the advertising people, and use traditional media channels to launch it. This kind of campaign is often one-way, and leaves little room for customer engagement.
Clients using social media expect communication to come from many directions and allow them the freedom to air their praises, complaints and questions about the company and its products.
2. Coming down from the pedestal
Social media for small business must take into account that Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms are built for immediate and easy communication. Businesses have no excuse to be unreachable. Traditional layers of communication are easily bypassed by social media channels.
The image that should be projected is being approachable anytime and from anywhere. Businesses should establish a social media presence that makes customers feel confident to discuss anything under the sun, and make them feel that there is a person on the other end, not a mere corporate entity.
3. Sincerity and not mere image-building
Since social media for small businesses is all about establishing customer relationships, it goes without saying that the relationship should be transparent, honest and sincere. The human aspect cannot be delineated from any social media activity. Social media users have acquired enough online social skills to easily detect fake behavior.
In actuality, savvy businesses should spend more time being truly interested in nurturing customer relationships, than in selling their products.
4. Free-flowing instead of structured communications
Social media for small businesses involve making meaningful interactions with users. Each post should be informative, natural, and delight user’s experience and imagination. Unlike traditional business marketing campaigns, social media encourages user participation and creative socialization, instead of stilted and formalized communications.
5. Keeping at it
Unlike regular business campaigns that often sticks to a tight and set implementation schedule, social media client base are cultivated carefully through time. The emphasis is in getting and maintaining the loyalty of more and more customers through a focused approach, not just a one-time short-term campaign. Businesses increase their fans or followers, and eventually, their follower-to-buyer numbers, through long-term social media campaigns that reel the customers in.