With big corporations like Amazon and Starbucks dominating global and local markets, the small business owner was previously at a severe disadvantage. Multinational companies have millions to spend on marketing, establishing trustworthy and recognizable brands. Most consumers will flock to these corporate giants because of their names alone.
Without gargantuan marketing budgets, small business owners had to struggle to establish footholds in their local markets. This, however, has changed.
Over the course of the last decade or two, social media has provided increasingly versatile and accessible marketing tools to small businesses, not to mention incredibly cost-effective with a high ROI. Nowadays, social media marketing is central to the advertising strategies of businesses both large and small, and those mom-and-pop stores we all know and love have a fighting chance once more.
Engaging with Your Audience
As any marketing specialist will tell you, building a rapport with your customers is essential. The relationship between business and customer is a two-way street, after all. You can’t expect to provide quality goods and services to people without feedback, nor can people be expected to trust your brand without a reliable point of contact.
Social media enables businesses to respond to customer queries, concerns, complaints, and praise with unprecedented ease and efficiency. Instead of relying solely on customer care lines and other outmoded forms of communication, people can resolve their issues rapidly through a platform they know, without wasting valuable time waiting for an available agent.
Businesses can also post engaging content for their followers to interact with, building their presence in the everyday lives of their customers. The more somebody engages with the content related to your business, the stronger the relationship of trust becomes. Thus, the next time they need a service you provide, they will likely think of you before anyone else.
Ideally, people should know as much about your business as possible to avoid frequent confusion and questions. Unlike the marketing models of the past, social media is a dynamic and malleable tool that can provide a consistent stream of up-to-date information about your products and services. In just a few minutes, you can author a post that provides an in-depth insight into what you offer. Post links, pictures, videos, advice, polls, whatever best encapsulates your brand.
The reach that you, as a business owner, have at your fingertips with social media marketing is remarkable. With minimal expenditure, you can ensure that your target audience will see the information you want them to see on a regular basis.
One of the crowning achievements of social media marketing is its ability to target relevant audiences on an unprecedented level. This is what makes social media such a valuable tool for small, local businesses. With location-based advertising, your content will be displayed only to people who are likely to benefit from your services. For example, those who live nearby, specific age groups, and people who regularly search for related services. Businesses used to waste thousands on marketing to audiences who either weren’t interested or couldn’t use their products. Now, you can hone your focus to a point where only the most viable candidates for your services will see your advertising.
Marketing costs money. Ad space doesn’t come cheap, and the more prestigious the location or platform, the more you must shell out to represent your brand there. Businesses spend tens of thousands of dollars on a few-second slot on prime-time TV and in famous publications. While this form of advertising certainly has its place, it’s far beyond the reach of most small businesses.
Social media is a budget-friendly marketing alternative that puts local businesses back in the race.
The more money small businesses can save on marketing, the more they can invest in their staff and assets, enabling them to grow and flourish. Nobody likes driving through a small town only to see the golden arches and Starbucks signs on every corner. Small, locally owned businesses are the lifeblood of countless communities, carrying history and legacy within their walls. A diverse market is a healthy one, and social media marketing helps that dream live on.
Seamless Integration Between Communities and Businesses
Social media marketing makes the customer an integral part of the advertising process. Instead of presenting an easily ignorable advertisement to an apathetic crowd, social media invites the consumer to be a part of the conversation. By commenting on, retweeting, liking, and sharing the content put out by their favorite businesses, people cause ads to take on a life of their own. The genuine thoughts and opinions of the public become just as much part of the process as the original content.
It is far easier to trust a brand that sports the glowing testimonies of your friends and neighbors than a brand that simply tells you that they’re trustworthy. Comments and reviews give potential customers insight into the real life experiences of past customers, paving the way for a democratic system in which quality matters more than ever.
With social media marketing, the voices of the consumer and their community are just as important, if not more so, than the voice of the brand. No matter how much money an inferior quality service dumps into advertising, the customer can always look to social media for a deeper insight into the truth. In the same breath, small businesses that offer superior quality service can be elevated far beyond their own means by loyal customers on social media.
Online Presence Matters
For better or worse, we’re undoubtedly living in an age of digital media. It has become part of the fabric of our society.
When it comes to marketing, small businesses of all kinds have more potential than ever before thanks to social media. If you are a small business owner with a strong online presence, your reputation, budget, and customer engagement cannot help but improve.
If you haven’t already, take some time to explore your social media marketing options and bring your small business into the 21st century.