Commentary

How Social Media Channels Can Appeal To SMBs

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, January 13, 2017

 There are millions of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) around the world. Social media is one of their most valuable brand awareness, customer engagement, marketing and sales tools. Subsequently, social media channels are eager to lure SMBs to advertise on their platforms.

Facebook may be raking in major advertising revenue from big brands, but it hasn’t taken for granted that the majority of its 4 million advertisers, per Forbes, are made up of SMBs. Similarly, Twitter recently announced it will streamline its sales division to focus in part on SMBs.

Though social media may be an excellent place for mom-and-pop shops to reach customers, it hasn’t always been so easy to do so. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: “While the small screen creates opportunity, it’s actually pretty hard for small businesses.” That’s why so many of the big social sites are making a concerted effort to be more SMB-friendly.

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Going Mobile

Though 60 million businesses today have an active Facebook page, many struggle to maintain their online presence, let alone advertise. This is why Facebook, Twitter and other social sites are working hard to make advertising on their platforms easier and more affordable.

One reason so many businesses flock to Facebook — it is both Web and mobile-friendly—not to mention free. For most SMBs, creating a site is tough enough. Making it mobile-friendly is even tougher and usually beyond their time and resources. Now Facebook is making a mobile presence more accessible than ever.

The significance is clear:  Social media has become mobile first, desktop second. One billion people today use Facebook exclusively on their mobile devices. Managing a business page is becoming as easy as managing a personal profile, and today’s busy business owners and marketers are better able to manage their ad campaigns on-the-go on social media.

Advertising: Simple, Low Cost and High ROI

To place ads on a Web site or mobile app, businesses often need to work with third-party advertisers and fork over serious cash. Social media channels offer small businesses an optimal work-around. SMBs can share a picture, text, or video post to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and promote it at any time with simple advertising tools.

Social channels have made advertising easy, low cost, and ROI-friendly by allowing SMBs to easily track ad metrics to gauge the impact on users, analyze customer demographics, and help inform future marketing decisions.

This is why major social media channels saw a 40% increase in ad spend this quarter, with Facebook alone witnessing a 50% rise. One additional driver shifting advertising budgets from traditional channels like TV, YouTube, and online news sites toward social media channels is the social aspect itself.

Unlike many other ad channels, social media allows for real-time engagement with users, which can have a huge impact on the consumer’s feelings about the company. Ads on social media are uniquely positioned to generate a conversation, be liked or disliked, shared and re-shared, and when lucky,  go viral.

A Conversocial survey found nearly half of all respondents indicated that a personalized response from a brand would greatly strengthen their brand loyalty. For example, when a user comments on a video ad with a complaint, the advertiser can immediately reach out to the user privately on social media to resolve any issues.

Likewise, if a user comments on an ad with questions or interest, a business can use the opportunity to follow up with more information and, hopefully, gain a new customer. Customer service is one department where Twitter still dominates, claiming 80% of social-customer requests happen on its platform, but Facebook is starting to gain ground with the introduction of helpful chat bots.

Innovating with Small Business in Mind

The majority of Facebook’s advertisers may be small to medium, but together they’re having a big impact on revenue, innovation and trends. For now, Facebook seems to be the preferred channel for small businesses, but having a presence on all the top social platforms is any SMB’s best bet for a successful marketing campaign.

 

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