In today’s business world, social media can’t be ignored. By utilizing social media as a part of your marketing strategy is an obvious step towards growth of your business. Social media is a great way to leverage your products or services. It is an easy and inexpensive way to connect to people around the world and an opportunity to make friends with people who have similar interests, find solutions to problems by collaborating with others, as well as attract clients that might need your products or services.
According to a recent survey on online social networking by the Institute for Corporate Productivity:
- 65% of business professionals use some form of personal or professional social network
- 47% use social networks to connect with potential clients and market their skills
- 55% use social networks to share best practices with colleagues
So, ready to jump on the Social Media Bandwagon? Here are 4 reasons why small businesses can benefit from social media.
Increase Your Opportunities
By incorporating social media into your business strategy, can increase your chances of opportunities beyond your local area. It is an excellent way to increase the visibility of your small business. As the founder of a virtual community, ‘National Association Women on the Rise’ (NAWR), I’ve had some amazing opportunities to connect with other business professionals and organizations. For example, a few opportunities this year include:
- Co-Author: I developed a relationship with Cheryl Pullins, Founder and Chief Visionary of Victorious Living International and Triumphant Living Coaching & Training. I am now co-author of “Victorious Living for Moms,” an amazing journey of 40 writers from across the United States who came together for the common goal of sharing their stories of trial and triumph for the purpose of impacting lives and changing people with a message of hope, love and victory.
- National Advisor: I was invited by Omar Muhammad, Director at Morgan State University; Entrepreneurial Development & Assistance Center; 2010 National Board of Advisors. We planned and executed the W.O.M.E.N’s conference. I also served as a seminar presenter.
- Key Note Speaker: I was contracted by the Women in Business group of Pensacola, FL., to provide a business related seminar for their annual holiday conference.
As you can see, by taking time and establishing relationships with others can open doors of opportunities for you.
Position Yourself as an Expert
Business owners are always looking for ways to position themselves as an expert in their industry. One way is to start a blog and create relevant content for your target market. For example, as a business consultant specializing in helping women grow their companies, I write business related articles and regularly post to my blog, ‘Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepreneurs.’ I also accept articles from others. By creating this platform for women to find resources, I have a few hundred visitors each week to my blog. When people choose to follow you, they have accepted you as an expert in your industry and look to you as a reliable source.
Here are a few ways to get the word out:
- Share links from your articles by using Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook
- Respond to people’s questions in forums and networking communities
- Partner with other bloggers to post your articles on their sites. For instance, I am a featured blogger for several blogs and publications including Natalie MacNeil’s, “She Takes on the World,” a blog that recently won the prestigious Stevie Award for Blog of the Year. In addition, she is listed as Forbes, “10 Best Career Sites for Women.”
Make the Connections
Business owners can use social media to communicate and engage network connections with potential clients, partners, vendors or advertisers, etc. Social media networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace are great tools to create viral buzz about your business.
It is easy to make an initial connection, but you must take the time to develop that connection into a relationship. Remember, people do business with people they know and trust.
Natasha Rubin, owner of Gifted Assistant Management Services, says, “As a Virtual Assistant, I am a part of several wonderful Virtual Assistant communities. But last year, I wanted to branch out into other forums and arenas where I had the opportunity to meet and network with other successful women business owners. I was honored when I received an invitation from Sylvia Browder to join “National Association Women on the Rise,” through LinkedIn. A short time after I posted in the “Introduce Yourself” forum, I was contacted by another member of NAWR for a possible business connection.
That was in November 2009 and I am still partnering with Walethia Aquil, Etiquette & Image Coach of Grace and Charm, as her Virtual Assistant. So yes, NAWR has been a great resource both professionally and personally! Thank you for making that possible.”
Build Lasting Relationships
If you put up your profile to never update or visit the social media site again, what are potential clients and business partners to think? In order to blossom and make an impact in the communities that you join, you must network. Networking is a reciprocal process based on the exchange of ideas, contacts, advice and referrals. By networking, you are building professional relationships and generating new business.
In conclusion, don’t be afraid of social media but rather embrace it. Many small businesses are climbing aboard the social media bandwagon to market themselves with free or low cost marketing. It just makes good business sense to learn how to leverage social media to build communities around brands and then leverage them into revenue.