This year, I’ve officially accepted that I should now recite “two-thousand-sixteen” as “twenty-sixteen”.
For years, I’ve carefully avoided the switch from the “old way” – much to the chagrin of friends and CBS Sunday Morning‘s Charles Osgood. I was born in the late 1980’s, for goodness sake.
It’s two-thousand-fourteen. Yes, we’re in the year two-thousand-fifteen.
Now, I’m ready to accept change, and I’m asking small business owners to embark on a new way of thinking about marketing as well. There are two words that will be very important to small business marketing in 2016, and those two words are Inbound Marketing.
In the social networking age, your clients are used to taking matters into their own hands – they ask their friends and communities, through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, about which products to buy, which restaurants are good, and what to avoid as well.
No matter what industry you are a part of, whether you serve a direct to consumer market or whether you’re more B2B, you can benefit by adopting a social media marketing plan in 2016.
Here are 10 reasons why you need to invest in social media for your small business in 2016:
It’s extremely cost effective
I recently had a client tell me that they spent over $30,000 on print magazine ads and hardly received any tangible result from it. In contrast, at that time, we had only spent $1,000 on social media pay-per-click ads and received a return on investment that eclipsed the high-end magazine ad. They decided to forego a print ad for this quarter and instead increase their PPC ad on two social media platforms to $10,000. And this is on the paid, meaty-end of the social media marketing spectrum.
You can setup your social media platforms for your business for free, and you can even run PPC ads yourself (with a cost per click budget). Even if you need a social media marketing professional to man your accounts for you, there are comprehensive, fair monthly packages available to small business owners looking for something in line with their budget.
Everyone’s doing it (and that matters this time)
Your competitors are on social media – at least, the ones that are growing and generating business. Why are your competitors on social media? Because they’re informing their current customers and leads about their services, they’re offering deals, they’re educating their ecosystem, and they’re using social media as a force multiplier to get their name out to as many interested parties as possible.
It improves your website’s SEO rankings
I just called social media a “force multiplier” – and it definitely strengthens the force of your overall Search Engine Optimization. Google loves it when your company has more pages – and when your name is visible to the search engine spiders on leading, trusted sites like Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and LinkedIn – you’re letting the search engines know your business is legit and that users should see it.
It allows you to engage with and learn from your customers and potential customers in real time
The best companies are always seeking feedback – and you can learn from your customers and potential customers in real time via social media. Poll your Facebook fans, create a PPC-based survey on Twitter, or address a ticked off customer with grace so consumers know you care about them. You can even utilize social media data and analytics to learn more about your customer demographics and what appeals to them.
You can advertise on social media, in addition to organic postings
Most of our daily work on social media is organic in nature (in a nutshell, it doesn’t cost anything to perform it), noted above, pay-per-click campaigns can boost your views, shares, likes, and popularity on multiple social media platforms, from Instagram to Facebook to YouTube. Remember the company above that felt like they wasted time on costly print ads? Social media has become the perfect paid advertising solution.
You can post your blogs and other website content on your social media pages
We’re furthering the force multiplier metaphor here. Get your content moving around online; stack it up so that people and search engine spiders see it and want to learn more about it. Post your blogs as social media posts – you can also post links to your ebooks, articles, events, and website pages or landing pages themselves.
It allows your customers and potential customers to access you and your brand 24/7
Just as your website is available to your customers 24/7, so is social media. Allow your customers to access you in a way that is preferable to them by providing social media in addition to your desktop website or mobile site.
It helps support brand recognition and affinity
When your fans share your brand with their community, they will likely hop on board, too. And when you build relationships with your fans, they won’t want to use another brand or switch to the competitor. Social media is personal in nature – and it allows consumers to become attached to your brand. Think about Apple, Kleenex, Band-Aid – ultimately, there’s an emotional connection there.
It’s a great way to get information about events and sales out to the public
If your company is having an event or flash sale, or if any other announcement needs to get to as many of your customers as possible, social media is a great way to get the word out.
It’s a great market research tool and data generator
Most social media platforms are chock full of data and analytics that can help inform you about what your customers like, what they don’t, who they are, and who they aren’t. This helps you tweak your marketing message – it’s like a 24/7 marketing informant and research tool! You can also take a look at what your competitors are doing – never a waste of time.
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