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Why Small Businesses Need Social Media
Franklin Rivera, CEO, V2M2
5 May 2017
This past year I have had the pleasure of working with several small businesses and their social media campaigns.  It was not always an easy sell, as many still questioned the need and the validity of having a social media strategy.
The others that expressed an interest in social media either had no marketing dollars available, or had never even considered social media as part of their marketing needs.  According to various publications and sources, the suggested amount for a marketing budget for small businesses is usually between 8% and 12% of the projected annual sales minus the average markup per item sold and the annual lease expenditures (if you have one).
The Impact Can Be Huge
But this is not why I am writing this article.  Old habits are hard to break, and while traditional marketing methods such as print and display still dominate the marketing world, social media is here to stay.  It is no wonder why social media marketing expenditures are forecasted to comprise about 20% of all total marketing expenditures in 2016.  This is because social media offers some distinct advantages to traditional marketing; 1) It gets you in touch with your customer’s needs, 2) It enables a business to be proactive rather than reactive and, 3) It enables businesses to have more targeted campaigns.
“But therein lies the key; dialogue, not monologue.   I have seen too many small businesses speak to their audience and not with them.”
As a small business, competition is high, because there are always others in the area that offer a service or product similar to yours.   It is possible to distinguish yourself from others through superior quality, pricing or even customer service.  However, most would argue that the business up the road from you that is engaging in a well-designed social media campaign is in a position to offer better quality, pricing and customer service.  This is because they are directly in touch with the needs of the surrounding market, and hence present and future customers.  This business would also be able to respond to the concerns of its constituents very quickly, since it is always keeping an open dialogue with them through social media channels.  But therein lies the key; dialogue, not monologue.   I have seen too many small businesses speak to their audience and not with them.  Being able to have dialogue with your audience enables you, the business owner, to be proactive in adapting to the needs of your customers and the industry to which you belong.  You will never hear anything if you are always doing all of the talking.
Invest in the Future of Your Business
Have you ever heard the expression, “throwing spaghetti against the wall, hoping that some of it sticks”?  When you are thinking of your marketing campaign for this year, think of it in terms of that expression.  How many people that you are reaching with the print ad in the local “savings” or coupon magazine, are actually interested in your service or product?  Or how many of the movie goers that see your big ad at the beginning of the movie are actually going to remember your ad after the movie?  That is throwing spaghetti against the wall hoping that some of it sticks.  Now conversely, think about holding dialogue with those people who are already fans of your establishment.  They in fact, are your social media sales team.  As a matter of fact, I saw an interesting statistic that said 88% of people will believe the endorsement from a friend, as opposed to 8% for a celebrity’s endorsement.  So the math is simple.  All of your connections on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin or other platforms are more likely to recommend your establishment to their friends versus someone who hears about you through print or display media.

So in conclusion, it behooves many businesses to rethink their marketing strategy and the allocation of their marketing dollars this year.  Consider some of the aforementioned advantages.  Think about where you want to be and how you plan to get there.  Social media just may provide the impetus needed to meet your goals.  

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