Don’t Be Scared To Share: The benefits of using social media as a small business owner

According to research done by the Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, Americans spend an average of 3.2 hours a day on Social Media. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, the statistics can’t be ignored. Americans, as a whole, like to spend large amounts of time scrolling through news feeds. Interact with your community through social media: Social outlets don’t appear to be going away any time soon, and they offer small and local businesses an opportunity to interact with customers, get vital feedback, and expand their audience cost-effectively. Unlike larger chains, as a small business owner your store is unique; it’s a little piece of you. Local businesses have the opportunity to cultivate deep relationships with their customers, and with social media that interaction can extend past the time the customer is physically in your business. People have been infatuated by the personal attention and customer relationships they’re able to create with small businesses for years. Social media provides businesses with a new opportunity for the owner-customer relationship to grow even deeper.

How to use social media to your benefit: Social media offers a myriad of opportunities for small businessesFrom general branding purposes to sharing coupons and offers that encourage repeat purchases, social media also provides a platform for customers to promote your business to their extended personal networks. Meaning once you’ve cultivated your specific identity, social media gives you the platform to show it off to a broader audience. Running your own business is no easy task. However, clearly you’re passionate enough about your industry to take on the challenge each and every day. Social media is simply another opportunity to let that passion shine.

Here are a few tips to help with your social media goals:

Use pictures to get more views: Hubspot suggests you share photos, because articles with images get 94% more total views than articles with out images. The post could be about a sale, a store renovation, or even just a friendly hello. Either way, when posting, remember posts with images drive more traffic through the door.

Engage quickly with your “friends”, “followers”, etc: When someone reaches out to you on social media, treat it as if someone were walking in your door. Having an active social media account allows your relationship with your customers to blossom and will keep them coming back again and again. Responding quickly to negative comments can save a customer relationship and demonstrate to future customers that you’re listening and care about customer satisfaction. This can be seen in a recent study published by Texas Tech, which shows that brands that engage in social media see a higher rate of customer loyalty than brands that do not.

Schedule Your Posts: As a small business owner, your wear many hats and adding social media to the pile can be daunting. Instead of trying to remember to post everyday, try scheduling your posts for the entire week or setting alerts to remind yourself it’s time to post. You can post about new shipments, holidays, or any exciting events that may be coming up for your business or industry.

SinglePlatform makes it easy to share with your social networks with our announcements tool. Learn more about all our features here!

Inbound Marketing: An Overview for Small Business

Small business marketing is evolving rapidly, and one of the biggest shifts in recent years has been from traditional outbound marketing (advertising, sponsorships, partnerships, etc.) to inbound marketing. But what, exactly, is inbound marketing? What does it entail, and why is it worth the effort? Read on for the answers.
What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the umbrella term for marketing tactics that help consumers find and connect with your business through unpaid means. The main goal of inbound marketing is to create value, provide help, and educate/entertain an audience.

Why Is Inbound Marketing Effective?

Rather than disrupting people as they go about their business online, inbound marketing reaches consumers where they are with information that is relevant and interesting to them.

Inbound marketing also encourages engagement and participation by consumers on a brand’s behalf. Instead of being a one-way conversation, with the business talking at the consumer, inbound marketing promotes a two-way conversation between consumers and brands.

What Are Inbound Marketing Techniques?

When it comes to inbound marketing, content rules, whether it’s content you create from scratch or content you share from another source.

Some inbound marketing techniques include:

  • Social media
  • Online listings
  • Blog posts
  • Emails
  • Comments on online forums
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

How Much Does Inbound Marketing Cost?

Overall, inbound marketing costs about 62% less than outbound marketing in terms of budget. But there are additional costs associated with inbound marketing that have nothing to do with money. It takes time and talent to produce and curate great content. It also requires a strategy and dedicated resources to get involved in conversations where your potential customers are online.

The good news is that, while inbound marketing is labor-intensive, it definitely pays off. According to a recent HubSpot survey, inbound marketing generates 54% more leads than outbound sources, and the cost per lead is lower across all inbound marketing channels.

The Bottom Line

If you haven’t already started to invest in inbound marketing for your small business, or if your inbound investment is minimal, consider adjusting your strategy for 2014 to take advantage of all that inbound has to offer.

2014 Marketing Trends for Small Business

As 2013 winds down, we not only look backward to take stock of all that has happened, but also begin to look forward to the new year and all that awaits us. It’s a time to celebrate accomplishments, learn from mistakes, and set goals for 2014. You may already be done with the bulk of your business planning for next year. However, there’s still time to nail down a marketing strategy that will set you up for success. Here are 6 key trends to be thinking about as you develop your plan.

Trend 1: Visual Marketing

People in the social media industry have been talking about the merits of visual marketing for the past few years. In 2014, it’s primed to take center stage. If you’re not already incorporating images and videos into your social media channels and marketing campaigns, now is the time to try your hand at visual content.

Trend 2: Inbound Marketing

Historically, businesses have focused their marketing efforts on outbound marketing—that is, marketing efforts aimed at a large audience with the goal of converting a small percentage to paying customers. Examples of outbound techniques include advertising, trade show attendance, purchased email lists, and cold calling.

In recent years, marketing has been shifting away from a traditional outbound model to an inbound model, which focuses on helping your business get found by people already interested in your industry. This type of marketing aims to make your business visible on search engines, social media, blogs, and listings sites as you create and share compelling content for consumers to interact with.

In 2014, the shift away from outbound marketing to inbound will be even more pronounced. Make sure to budget for the time, personnel, and money needed to invest in developing solid inbound channels.

Trend 3: Mobile Marketing

In October, we discussed the growth in mobile device usage for local search and mistakes to avoid when developing mobile marketing campaigns. Numerous studies conducted in the past year all point to the importance of mobile search for local businesses. If you’re not already present on mobile, make sure to plan for it in 2014! (Pro tip: SinglePlatform can help you with this.)

Trend 4: Brand Authority

In today’s saturated market, it’s not enough to merely say that your business provides products or services worth using—it’s up to the business owner to prove their brand’s authority over time.

This process is not something that happens overnight. It involves investing in a number of areas, including messaging, service, and content. We’ll cover the specifics of how to build brand authority in another post later this month.

Trend 5: Personalization

In November, we covered a few different ways that you can personalize your communications. Personalization is hot right now, and will remain so in the new year. This ties in with the aforementioned inbound marketing and brand authority trends. Today’s consumers want to interact with businesses that are relevant, engaging, trustworthy, and include a human element in their business marketing.

Trend 6: Less Is More

Consumers deal with a growing amount of virtual noise every day. As a small business, you may be tempted to try and stand out from the crowd by being bigger, more extravagant, and flashier when it comes to marketing. But the success of campaigns from Apple, Google, and other major brands has shown that simplicity is often the best tactic when it comes to messaging.

The Bottom Line

There’s no secret formula when it comes to creating a successful marketing plan. However, it is important to incorporate current trends into your efforts to make sure your time, effort, and budget are spent wisely.

Have specific questions or exciting ideas when it comes to small business marketing? Share them in the comments!