Friday, January 4, 2013

How Small Businesses Can Harness Social Media

Small businesses make up an enormous portion of the American economy, and in many ways, they represent the portion of the economy that is best situated to take advantage of social media. After all, many small businesses rely on close, personal relationships with their clients to sustain and grow their business. These relationships can be extended if the small businesses make proper use of social media. However, a recent survey found that fully 88 percent of businesses don’t believe they are making the best use of social media.

The problem often times is that these companies wade into the social media waters without a clear idea of how they should approach social channels, or which social channels are best for their needs. As a result, they end up using Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr, and doing none of them particularly well. The goal with social media should not be simply having a presence in all of the different channels that are available. Instead, it should be having an effect presence in one or two channels, and then perhaps expanding to others once the first channels have been mastered.

An important part of mastering social media is re-framing the way companies view it. Rather than looking at social media simply as another tool for broadcasting to consumers, companies should view it also as a means of gleaning information from their established customers and potential clients. Companies, especially small ones that stand to benefit from close relationships with a few clients, should use social media to learn about what’s happening with their clients, and then keep in touch based on those happenings. For instance, a small note from a business when a client’s birthday comes up on Facebook can make a big impression. Too many businesses miss out on such opportunities to talk to their customers.

The best part about a limited approach to social media is that it saves time. When a business spends time spreading itself thin across a range of social media, typically that’s just time wasted that could be better spent on other projects. By limiting their focus to just one or two social media channels, businesses will cut time lost to other channels, and encourage themselves to take full advantage of whichever channels they do choose to engage in. And whatever approach they choose, small businesses should always remember that the goal of social media is to strengthen their relationships and ties to customers.

When those customers start calling, you’d better make sure your phone system is ready to take on the new influx of calls! Have you looked into a Hosted PBX or SIP Trunking lately?

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