In this changing economic time, the ways in which small businesses fill the pipeline with new leads has changed drastically in the last few years. For instance, the invention of social marketing is relatively new. The introduction of data mining on Facebook and Twitter as a way to drive business to your company is a relatively new concept. However it is growing at an alarming rate. According to some statistics, Facebook has an average of 250,000 new registrations per day since January of 2007.
Business today is an even more competitive place and one that allows small business to compete in markets that would normally be out of reach. This can be attributed to the phenomenon known as social marketing or social networking. However this means that the small business owner must be very prepared to understand the ramifications of starting down the path of these new outlets and how they reflect on your company. For example, did you know that every post that a person on Twitter makes can be found on any number of the search engines? Maybe you’re thinking so what…
Did you hear of a politician recently making a very inappropriate remark on his Facebook status and have to offer his apology publicly? This status update got him top story on several national new shows! He apologized and said it was meant for only his close personal friends. Does this make this remark okay? The point is that everything you post on the web is out and part of public record. Knowing this before you start participating on the Internet as a spokesperson for your company is a very good thing.
These social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many others are great to keep in touch with people, but is there really an opportunity to generate revenue from leads off of these sites? According to Mobile Market Watch.com, US social networking revenues will reach $421 million in 2010 and nearly a billion by 2013. I have seen some estimates as high as $134 billion by 2015. These are staggering numbers that seem to lead us to a resounding yes; there can be a pay-off for social networking.
As great as these numbers sound, there are important topics to consider and answer for yourself about social marketing. How is what you do online representing your brand? Does it speak to your clients the way you would speak to them in person? Regardless of how large or small your brand is, your actions and words online will reflect on your company. For instance, it is shocking how many small companies do not own a domain. There is a simple way to tell if a company has their own domain or not. Look at their business card, if the email address on the business card is like this; Abespainting@comcast.net then they don’t. This is the best way for your business to look very small and not well established. This may very well not be the case, however perception truly is reality. You have even shorter amounts of time to establish report online than you do in a one on one in person exchange. Remember that any marketing page you make or post for your brand online again is a calling card for your business. If you are not proud of the page it should probably not be online for the entire world to see.
The good news about these small issues is that solutions exist for small business owners that will make their businesses look and feel like a larger well-established company without the enormous expense of servers and convoluted backup systems. Having hosted services like exchange and SharePoint will allow you to get your emails and contacts on a Smartphone or from any computer in the world connected to the Internet. Any decent IT company will be able to assist you to make these changes to allow you to appear and have all the benefit that a fortune 500 company would without the large investment. To become savvy in this new world of social marketing and networking you do not need to break the bank.