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Which platforms of social media SMEs choose, and how many of them they manage efficiently, are two different aspects.
Traditional media, like newspapers, radio, and television, are effective ways to reach out to large audiences. However, traditional media is broadcast-messages go out, but there is little interaction with the target audience or customers. The information cannot be easily personalized nor is it quick in nature, besides real-time responsiveness is difficult or impossible in most traditional media marketing strategies.
Marketing these days is different when compared to what it was a few decades back. The biggest difference that has happened is due the Internet, which has revolutionized the traditional ways of doing business or marketing. The emergence and widespread usage of Internet has led to the beginning of an era of online activities including the rise of social media spectacle.
Social media, is primarily based around interactions amongst people. It allows personal communication, personalization of broadcast messages, and it can be updated quickly to keep target audience / customers appraised of a rapidly changing business dimension and products or services. Coupled with the advent of portable devices like Laptops, Tablets and Smart phones, the social media marketing has taken different dimensions altogether. We are fast approaching a situation where it may be virtually impossible to hear anybody who do not have Facebook or Twitter Account.
Role of Social Media in Modern Day Business Management
Traditional Marketing focused more on resources, on trade shows, mass advertising, print media and PR to create and build awareness on services and products. SMEs constantly faltered on fully exploiting the traditional marketing options as compared to bigger business players having deep pockets. Now with coming up the Internet age, imbalances are fast fading away, with social media coming as a great equalizer for all categories of business owners.
Hubspot, a popular marketing software platform reported in one of its studies that 92% of the marketing professionals have reported that social media marketing played an important role in their businesses with as much as 80% of them claiming that their inbound website traffic increased because of it.
Advantages of Social Media Marketing to SMEs
1. Easy Business Visibility – Social Media provides the new ideas to SMEs to showcase their business, business contacts and contents related to it. Businesses are becoming more accessible and easier to reach.
2. More and Higher rate of Conversions-Through social media, it is easier to make any customers to perform a particular action (Call to Action) when compared to other approaches. The “Humanization Effect” of social media makes a business appear more like a person rather than a business proposal.
3. Lower Cost of Marketing of Products and Services – It is accepted benchmark amongst internet marketers that six hours effort every week is enough to generate higher inbound traffic for their website. In short, better results could be expected to SMEs, with no or little investment of time in posting quality contents and developing decisive syndication strategy.
4. Better Customer Experiences – By nature itself, social media is undoubtedly a far better and cost-effective communication channel, especially for SMEs. Every time business reaches out to a customer or target audience, it has an opportunity to further enrich the relationship by providing high quality customer services or by giving them great experiences.
5. Higher Customer Loyalty and Brand Authority – A good social media marketing strategy could be a game changer and immensely beneficial to SMEs in terms of improving customer’s brand loyalty. Multiple studies done so far, has come to the unanimous conclusion that majority of the people who follows particular brands in social media tend to remain loyal to such brands to those who do not. When a satisfied customer says something through feedback or recommendation or posts something about any business entity / its product or services, the potential customers definitely take note of it.
6. Increase in Inbound Website Traffic – Each and every profile or links that are launched as a part of social media marketing strategy, leads the customer to your business website. SMEs or small-time business entities, tend to rely heavily on their websites to work for them and give results in terms of more leads and conversions.
Choosing the right Social Media Marketing platform
Many believe that social media is an indispensable option for any business person. But, at the same time, it needs great care in terms of managing the amount of effort and time invested.
SMEs may tend to fall into a trap of embracing any new social media avenue that comes to surface in the virtual world. This may sometimes ruin the core idea of social media marketing. Which platforms of social media SMEs choose, and how many of them they manage efficiently, are two different aspects. By blindly following the social media crowd and investing time, energy and scarce resources, may leave SMEs tired and drained out.
Stakeholders need to study in depth, about the nitty gritty of per social media platform, type of people visiting there and for what purpose. Facebook and LinkedIn may be two entirely different set of social media platforms if they are evaluated per their members and followers.
Facebook appeals more to youth and drives on younger generation chit chats whereas LinkedIn is created or evolved around professionals or business entities core aspirations in mind. Similarly, there are many other popular social media options available with their own set of USPs and targeting segment like Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and many more. It does not stop here, but myriad of them are still in the pipeline for the future with new innovative ideas to keep everybody engaged and interested. Before jumping onto the bandwagon, SMEs needs to match the business priorities, target audience, appeal of contents vis-a-vis inherent power of individual social media platform.
Article originates from www.economictimes.com written by Harpreet Singh Dua, ET CONTRIBUTORS