As of last year, 90% of small businesses have a social media presence (study). In 2009, only 20% of small business owners had any social media presence, and while this rapid growth surprises no one, it’s worth noting. Because of the proliferation of social media in the small business world and the world at large, social media is not a fad; it’s the new way we as a society communicate.
Social Media Means Accessibility
The uptick in social media use means more accessibility for small businesses, in two ways: the brand and the customers are more accessible to each other than ever, and the social media management tools are increasingly accessible to small businesses.
In a way, social media requires businesses of all sizes to think more like small businesses. In a small business, every transaction is essential and every customer is important. And now, in the constant social media dialogue surrounding every moment of our lives, every transaction becomes more important to the larger businesses, as well.
As a result, customers are more accessible to businesses: advertising can be targeted to specific demographics, and businesses can monitor what anyone is saying about them at any time. On the flip side, businesses and information about them are as accessible as ever to their customers. What does this mean for small businesses? It means that transparency and clear communication with customers is essential.
Additionally, complex analytical tools to unpack the statistics surrounding your small business’ performance on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ were once only available to medium- and enterprise-sized businesses. Now, scheduling, monitoring, and analytics tools are available to anyone, and often for free!
With these tools and the importance customers are putting on social media interactions, there’s no longer any excuse for sloppy (or lazy) social media management.
The Competition is Fierce
Not surprisingly, with more businesses using social media, more businesses are seeing success with social media. The secret sauce seems to be a combination of staying true to the brand’s voice while providing useful content.
But more small business owners figuring this out means that the early adopters don’t necessarily have a “leg up” anymore. To stay ahead of the competition, small businesses need to remain active on their social media accounts, regularly providing their fans and customers with value.
Our Future with Social Media
Social media should not be simply one more task that gets piled on the already-full plates of small business owners. Instead, it is becoming increasingly absorbed into the structure and the culture of small businesses. Rather than one dedicated social media person, businesses are beginning to share these marketing responsibilities across several employees. Social media marketing is no longer a job description; it’s an essential skill for all positions, especially within a small business.
If the future of communication and marketing lays in social media, then the increase in accessibility (both to tools and to customers) is a boon for small businesses.
Our guest blogger today is JM Freuler from Funding Gates