By Suvodeep Das, Vice President- Marketing, Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services India
“We’re living at a time when attention is the new currency. Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value.”Pete Cashmore, Mashable.com
The digital age has created a world full of marketing opportunities. The Global Digital Report 2018 states that more than 3 billion people use social media each month -a huge 42% of the global population. And the rising smartphone ownership rates will only lead to an increasing number. The high usage penetration has transmuted social media into a powerful tool for businesses, and it’s time for SMEs to pay heed. Whereas they were at a disadvantage earlier in the time of traditional media like television, radio, and print, today the imbalances have vanished, creating tremendous scope for small and medium companies to market their brands!
5 Reasons for SMEs to adopt Social Media
Social networking has created a large potential audience for any business to access instantly. The real-time responsiveness of social media interactions has enabled businesses to connect with their customers in more ways than ever before; no longer is marketing communication a one-way street. And the benefit for SMEs is manifold.
- Building Brand-Visibility: Social media platforms offer SMEs ample ways to rapidly build their online presence at an affordable Be it paid advertising opportunities or free social media channels, these platforms can be extremely effective to create a distinct differentiation strategy and strengthen the brand perception.SMEs can use clutter-breaking blogs, photos and videos to boost their online presence and market themselves specifically to the target audience, as ‘Peel’, the mobile accessories company did in USA. In spite of the highly competitive nature of this industry, Peel has succeeded in creating a USP of providing functional and stylish mobile covers through use of Facebook video ad campaigns and a cohesive Instagram feed which focuses on aesthetics. The campaign resulted in a 16x increase in revenue.
- Improving Customer-Engagement: Social media is by far the most cost-effective tools to engage with customers. By sharing brand values, addressing queries, encouraging feedback and acting upon them, organisations can convert brand users into brand influencers. Wholesome Culture, the US-based ethical clothing brand, is one shining example of a small local company that went global, thanks to its customer engagement strategy on social media. Sharing not just tips on fashion, but also vegan recipes, holistic living blogs, plant-based living viral memes and pop culture trends, the company’s Instagram page thas more than 317k followers.
- Increasing Geographical Reach: Promoting new products and services across several locations is a breeze, thanks to social networks. The easy access to multimedia-rich global platforms and an online presence have helped countless homemakers and small-scale set up across the globe promote their products and services through a 100% digital model. Be it food, fashion, furniture, lifestyle or services, social media gets your brand to geographies you would not reach otherwise.
- Creating Brand Authority: Building credibility is an expensive and time-consuming proposition offline and not really viable for SMEs who may not have the time or resources to do it. Instead, they can use LinkedIn or Twitter to establish thought leadership. Blogging about niche topics related to their industry can also help SMEs drive quality leads to their website.
- Boosting SalesRevenue: All the above reasons translate to one core purpose - SMEs with an active social media presence can drive greater inbound traffic to their websites, resulting in more leads and sales conversions. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook also have inbuilt e-commerce capabilities for SMEs to close sales smoothly and grow their revenues.
Investing in the right social media strategy
Managing social media can involve a lot of time and effort. So, before jumping in it is important to have a clear strategy outlining the key objectives for adopting social media. Based on the business priorities, the most suitable platforms can be chosen. For SMEs, it’s important to initially opt for channels that are user-friendly, inexpensive, and have relatively simpler interfaces.
Social media can only succeed as a long-term strategy. So, if you can not invest the right amount of time, then either hire an expert or out-source to an agency.
Social media platforms may have started off as networking avenues for family and friends, but they have quickly evolved to become an indispensable marketing tool for most organizations. It’s time for small businesses to harness their power to chart greater heights.