According to a 2013 survey conducted by the Bank of Montreal (BMO), around 57 percent of small business owners use social networking sites compared to 40 percent in 2012. Of the 300 respondents, 46 percent said they used social media marketing strategies to promote their brand, while 38 percent use them to sell their products and services. Another 38 percent (up 15 percent from 2012) use social networking platforms to seek ideas and suggestions. Around one-third (35 percent) of respondents leverage these sites to track what is said about their brand and one-quarter (26 percent),to trace sentiment about their rivals. Steve Murphy, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal says that these numbers clearly shows Canadian business owners are increasingly using social media tools to look for ways to improve their brand profile while broadening their connection with customers.
Other crucial findings of this survey are:
- LinkedIn saw an 87 percent in engagement from Canadian business owners, which was 15 percent up as that of in 2012
- Around 43 percent of small businesses use Facebook – 27 percent up from 2012
- Nearly one-in-five businesses or around 17 percent use Twitter, up from 10 percent in 2012
Murphy opinioned that even though social networks act as an effective platform for small businesses to reach new and existing customers, most businesses are leveraging the platform more and more to find the out the talent that help to grow and succeed in the competitive economy.
Why Social Media is a Powerful Marketing Tool for Small Businesses
- Excellent Platform for Word-of-Mouth Marketing – Social networking allows you engage in a conversation or tell your story and offer something that works better rather than merely pitching your product. You can post images or videos regarding your product and frequently post the latest news about your business as status updates or tweets. ‘Facebook offers’ allow you to offer customers discounts on your Facebook page
This helps you build trust and make customers recommend your product or services to their friends and family.
- Build Relationships with Customers – Social networking sites provide you with an excellent opportunity to extend your customer circle through fans and followers. You can interact with them constantly and understand what they actually expect from you. It is much easier than making a list of customers, calling up each one and asking their opinion.
- Online Reputation Management – With social sites, you can keep an eye on what people and sites says about your business, product or services. You can monitor the amount of likes, retweets or read the comments for that and provide replies to clear your side. This helps address negative responses more effectively and also build your online reputation. You can participate in community discussions and inform others about your expertise.
- SEO Advantage – Social media is an effective tool to drive organic traffic to your site. Every time your content is liked, +1ed, shared or followed on social networking sites, it will be sending link juice to your site. As the links comes naturally to your site, your site’s SERP ranking would definitely improve.
- Cost-Effective Advertising Alternative – Advertising options with social site are much more economical than traditional advertising. You can simply tweet or post the latest offers or products, which would help promote sales.
Facebook provides several kinds of advertising options such as mobile app ads, custom audience, Facebook exchange and so on, whereas Twitter offers promoted tweets and promoted accounts. The success of Cadbury’s Triple Chocolate Tasting Hangout on Air Google+ Hangout campaign is one of the best examples of how to make an effective advertising campaign using the ‘Hangout’ feature in Google Plus.
It is very important to evaluate which branding strategy would work best for your business before embarking on a social media marketing campaign. A professional SEO company with experience in social media optimization can help with this. They would be able to a devise a social media marketing strategy that can enhance your brand, traffic, sales and revenue.