According to the August 2012 Sensis E-Business Report, more than 90% of small businesses are connected to the internet although, alarmingly, only 26% of these businesses are using social media to communicate with their customers. Why is this so alarming? Because in two years, this proportion of social media users has grown significantly with expectations that more than half of the remaining businesses will be on board by 2014. As a small business owner, it is imperative that you seize this opportunity to develop an online relationship with your customers before it’s too late and you simply become one of the swarming masses.
But why is Social Media so important?
Facebook (and many others forms of Social Media) was originally developed for consumers in order to facilitate communication between family and friends. It is only recently that the commercial world has realised the opportunity to utilise social media as a platform to get more and give more to their customers – at a very low cost. I have outlined below some of my favourite reasons why you shouldn’t be holding your business back online.
1. Build Brand Recognition
First and foremost, a social media application for your business should be developed with your business branding in mind. Ensure that you know how you would like your customers to perceive your business not just online but in the real world. Social media builds brand recognition by providing your customers with an opportunity to get to know your business – what you do, what you sell, where you are and how to contact you, how you treat your customers, what your customers think of you and your connection with the community. When it comes time to buy, your customers will choose you over the competition they don’t know.
2. A Personal, Friendly Face for your Business
In today’s digital age, consumers are actively seeking a simpler, more personal approach. Using the right people, your customers can relate to posts, tweets, photos and more that show them you’re more than just a faceless company and they’re more than just a number.
3. Customer Contact
By being able to communicate with your customers quickly, easily and most importantly, measurably, you can take advantage of a variety of advertising and marketing opportunities including keeping your customers informed, receiving (and responding) to customer feedback, building repeat customers through ongoing relationships and learning more about your customers.
4. Keep your Customers Informed
Not only can you use social media to tell your customers about your business, your products and services, you can also keep them informed about current deals and discounts available. Recent reports show that a social media consumer is seeking opportunities for sales, competitions and freebies more than anything else from a business online. Give them what they want and not only do you make the sale, but using social media the right way, you can keep your customer loyal.
5. Customer Feedback and Response
Customers are known to be brutally honest in the face of online anonymity. While they can provide glowing feedback for future potential customers, they can also post some truly negative comments. Don’t let this frighten you away. You can use any negative feedback to your advantage to promote your business. By responding quickly and effectively to negative comments, you are not only showing your attention to your consumers but also the business’ intentions to focus on improvement and customer service.
6. Relationship Marketing
Not just for face-to-face contact, Relationship Marketing has its place online also. Communicating and responding to your online followers is the first step to building an online relationship with your consumers. Just as with any relationship, showing a little dedication and communication will go a long way – and get you the repeat customers your business craves.
7. Free Market Research
Social Media is a marketer’s dream. Why? Not only is it a measurable opportunity, it gives your business a chance to get to know your customer free of charge. Determining your customer’s and potential customer’s needs, preferences, demographics and expectations is often a costly and time-consuming task – but with social media, much of this information is freely available to you and just a click away. By knowing your customers, you can build your business strategy to meet the needs of your consumers and grow your sales.
8. Let your happy customers sell your products and services for you
Using social media, one good plug from a happy customer goes a long way. Researching consumers will see your good comments when checking you out online and your happy customer’s friends and followers will also get a better idea of who you are. Remember, a good review is a great referral. There are very few customer-facing businesses out there that cannot benefit in some way from using social media. From Facebook and Twitter, to LinkedIn, Tumblr and Pinterest, knowing the right tools to join your customers online will ensure your business is moving forward.
Cinch Administration has the tools and time to maximise your business potential online through social media, website development, online marketing and more. Talk to us today about what we can do for you.