This is a guest contribution from Kristen Gramigna.
Small companies are at a tremendous disadvantage for many forms of Internet marketing. Paid search marketing (pay per click, retargeting, etc.) often requires enormous budgets and a campaign scope of millions of keywords, far beyond the resources of a smaller enterprise. SEO is a similarly formidable challenge: beyond the large budgets and multifaceted campaigns, profitable results may take months or even years to achieve.
Social media marketing, in sharp contrast, is an area where small businesses can compete. The barriers to entry are low, the hard costs of conducting campaigns are minimal, and small businesses have a few built-in advantages they can profitably leverage in the social media space. Let’s review these ideas in a little more depth:
Low Barriers to EntryYou can’t get much cheaper than free, and free is what it costs to set up accounts on all of the major social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus and Snapchat. This is not to say a small company should set up accounts indiscriminately on every platform, but for platforms that make sense, a strong company page can be constructed at no cost, and within a single business day.
Low-Cost CampaignsTime, not money, is the key element of successful social media marketing. If you or a staffer has time to write and post simple (and also relevant and interesting) content, monitor your account, respond quickly to comments and questions, initiate conversations and broadcast solid promotional offers, you will develop engaged communities and over time, generate sales leads and sales.
In addition, finding and connecting with relevant social media users can also be done with labor rather than money. In particular, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn make it pretty easy to identify, reach out to and connect with people who are likely to have an interest in your products, services and industry.
Small-Business AdvantagesA small company, almost by definition, is more nimble and hands on than a big brand. These characteristics make a small social media site more appealing than a big brand in two key ways:
- First, being nimble, you can respond quickly to any comment or question. Due to red tape, sheer size and other factors, big brands are challenged to respond quickly, if at all.
- Second, being hands on, it may be the small-business owner or a key executive that is interacting with the company’s social media communities. With big brands, fans are usually communicating with low-level/entry-level personnel or someone completely anonymous.
- A third and very important advantage for small business: the ability to share expertise. If owners and high-level personnel are doing the communicating, rather than low-level or entry-level staffers, your social media content may be able to exceed that of big brands in authoritativeness, relevance and usefulness. Content of this kind is what attracts interest, builds engaged communities, builds trust in your brand, and generates business.
Infographic courtesy of Socialally // Slideshare.
Don’t expect results overnight, though. It takes months of consistent effort and engagement to succeed in social media, because otherwise, not enough people will discover you, and those that do will perceive you as a flash in the pan, a company not genuinely interested in social media. Relationships matter on social media, and more good news: small businesses are adept at creating and building them — another huge, and perhaps decisive, advantage you will have over larger, more impersonal organizations.
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm. Follow her on Twitter at @BluePay_CMO. She has more than 20 years experience in the bankcard industry in marketing, direct sales and sales management.