Social media marketing is an integral part of making a site more popular to the target consumer base. There are numerous benefits to placing an advertisement on social media. If you open a fan page of your company on Facebook, for instance, then you can use your personal contacts list to spread the link and gather more followers by means of ‘likes’. The more friends that ‘like’ your page, the more likely your page will be visible around the virtual world. Suppose one person from your Facebook ‘likes’ your page. The people on their friend list would be able to see that the person liked a page and would be curious to check that page out. If the curious person also ‘likes’ your page, the cycle of spreading ‘likes’ goes on and on. If you follow the principles of online PPC techniques, you can place advertisements on Facebook (and other social networking sites) where a person would be able to view your advertisement if he/she displays a leaning towards the kind of product or service you sell.
Twitter is not far off. The Twitter Analytics feature platform is of huge benefit to business owners. Through it, a business can track the changes in the size of their customer base. In addition to this, they can also see the demographics the followers belong to, and their tastes and preferences.
The question remains: why do small businesses shy away from using social media to their full benefit? The answer is multifaceted:
- The majority of small companies, especially start-ups, are intimidated by the idea of social media campaigning. To them, a social media campaign is something that requires a lot of time, resources, efforts and energy that cannot be afforded. A lot of these companies are not aware of campaign tracking tools such as Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Omniture, etc. Because these companies want to play it safe, under the notion that social media campaigns only work when a company is well established, they end up depriving themselves of the benefits that online business campaign tracking tools can give them.
- Many times, a company doesn’t even have a plan for conducting a campaign on social media. They simply enter the space and work randomly, even taking flawed routes (such as bombarding members with spam messages). As a result, their campaigns fail and they end up dismissing the effectiveness of social media campaigning as a whole. Social media marketing requires a plan in order to succeed. Each business needs to target a certain demographic and then develop their campaigns accordingly, instead of simply making a universal appeal. They need to make use of tools, such as market survey tools and holding consumer contests, with special offers to be won as prizes. Yet, all these, for some reason, intimidate smaller companies.
- There may be companies that feel that the competition is very packed and that the ‘early birds’ have caught all the worms. That is, the bigger or early-arrival companies have already reaped all the benefits from a particular social media strategy and occupied all the niches. While this fear is not totally unjustified, it is also true that sustained and diligent marketing can indeed popularize a company among social media users without even needing to spend much on advertising. For example, if a company sells health products, they can hire people to research health-themed Facebook groups (or other social media communities) and promote the products of the company. They can participate in discussions on social media groups and share the positive aspects of the products that are being sold by the company. In doing so, you gain popularity within a particular niche.
Thus, it’s mainly a combination of unrecognized potential and a presence of uncertainty regarding social media that prevents small companies from achieving success in social media marketing campaigns. The scenario is slowly changing, but as small and niche businesses become more informed about social media marketing, there’s a promising future ahead.