Top 8 Reasons Why Social is so Important for Local SMEs

If you own or manage a small or medium-sized local business, you need to be putting forth a significant effort to put your company front and center in the social sphere. If not, you’re missing out on a big piece of the online pie that’s available to you. Prospective customers will search social networks to find out what people are saying about you and your products and services, and to learn more about how you handle your customer service.

According to Pew Research Center, as of September 2014:

  • 71% of online adults use Facebook
  • 23% of online adults use Twitter
  • 26% use Instagram
  • 28% use Pinterest
  • 28% use LinkedIn

There’s plenty of data emerging regularly that shows social-savvy customers (and who isn’t these days?) are much more likely to spend their money with companies who have active social profiles. It all comes down to trust building and engagement; both of which are increased exponentially when a good social marketing plan is implemented.

A shopper checking her social media updates

Here are 8 reasons SMEs need to get onboard the social bandwagon (yesterday!):

1. Brand Recognition

This is what separates the little guys from the big boys. The more eyes that you get your business’s name, products, and services in front of, the more people will know you. Simple right? Some of the biggest and oldest brands in the book have spent decades building their brands the old fashioned way, using traditional media and word-of-mouth marketing to build their brands. SMEs in 2015 have many more options, including social media for brand building.

2. Trust Building

This one’s synonymous with number 1, but trust building is crucial to preselling your brand to new customers as well as being able to interact with current and past customers on a regular basis too. Since you’re putting yourself out there, customers can get a sense of how you respond to comments (good and bad) about your business. They can get a sense of how prompt and courteous you are when it comes to asking questions, and see what other people are saying about you on the web.

3. Lower Marketing Spend

There are tons of platforms out there that encourage businesses to spend money advertising on their network. In fact, all the big names (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) have their own advertising platforms. However, if you’re making every effort possible to get followers, likes, shares, and comments from your customers, there are plenty of organic cost saving benefits that your business can reap too. Make sure your social handles are visible throughout your brick-and-mortar store, on your website, and on all your business’s marketing material.

4. Increased Customer Loyalty

This reason should be quite obvious at this point. When you’re interacting on social media – increasing consumer awareness about your brand, building trust with useful content, offering free advice, providing excellent service, etc. – it’s going to make it harder for people to forget about you. Customers want to be able to interact with brands online, in the public eye. Knowing that you have a strong social presence makes your SME that much more transparent and seemingly accountable.

Social branding
photo credit: Geekia / Flickr

5. Website Traffic Boost

Some businesses don’t have a website and they do just fine, but if you do have website where you actively sell products and services, or collect leads for your team to follow up on, you can be sure you’ll get more hits if you post a link to it in your social posts. Don’t always focus on trying to get a sale either, send customers to your blog to receive useful free content, then work on (tactfully) getting sales and leads once they land there.

6. SEO Benefits

More traffic still means better rankings for select keywords related to your business. According to Matt Cutts and his ever-changing contradictory mindset about their effect on SEO, social signals still aren’t at the top of Google’s ranking system – officially. However, always consider that increased traffic numbers to your site will always count big for pulling in more organic search traffic. QuickSprout’s Neil Patel recently made a convincing argument that “Social is the New SEO”, pointing out that the big dogs in the social sphere like YouTube and Facebook all have highly advanced search engines of their own, and many people now search those platforms directly for content and information.

7. Free Data

Who doesn’t want free data in this day and age? Not only can you easily collect data relating to what people are saying about your brand, what content they’re enjoying most, and the number of followers you have; you can easily find out people’s age, sex, marital status, education level, yearly income and so much more, right there at your fingertips with all the free and paid tracking apps available to SMEs and big business. You can use this information to refine your plan and find out what works best for your business.

8. More Sales!!!

Social is still actually in its infancy. There may come a day when it will take up a much bigger chunk of the $300 billion (and growing) online sales industry. Perhaps, if Neil Patel is right, it will usurp traditional search engines and become the number one factor in online marketing and sales for businesses…

… Maybe. It would sure suck to get to that point and have to start from scratch though, wouldn’t it?

Time to go social? YES!

Among all the benefits it offers, small and medium sized businesses need to have social profiles set up on the networks that benefit their bottom line the most.  Now the next question is: How?

Our friends at Connectivity offer this comprehensive guide that will help you set up your social media plan from scratch.  The guide answers your typical questions, such as what networks you should be using for your specific business, what publishing schedule you need to use in order to benefit your business the most, how to engage with “good” and “bad” customers effectively, what content you should be posting to your profiles, along with other great tips and tricks their experts have gathered from years of experience working in social media marketing and consulting.