Do you want to grow your small business?…Social Media is the way to do it!

small-business-social-media

The number of small businesses is growing and growing over the time, probably you have a small business or you are thinking right now about how to make the investment to establish one of those. There are multiple reasons why to have a small business, lower costs and more flexibility to response to the market dynamics are some of them. However, because of the number of small businesses in almost every industry, the competition is intensifying, thus small businesses need to be innovative and need to apply new strategies to attract customers and to become relevant to them.

So, in this path, Social Media appeared as an excellent channel for small businesses to reach customers, to connect with them and to start building positive relationships. Because of this, there are an increasing number of small businesses using SM, however, the way the strategy is applied it will ensure the effectiveness of this channel for these small businesses.

An article published by the Tire Business titled “Number of Small Businesses using SM doubled since 2008” indicates the following:

  •  75 percent of 500 small businesses have a company page on a social networking site;
  • 61 percent use social media for identifying and attracting new customers;
  • 57 percent have built a network through a site like LinkedIn; and
  • 45 percent expected social media to be profitable in the ensuing 12 months.

According to this, small businesses are realizing the limitless advantages of having a SM strategy and they are starting to move in this way.

Now, what are the advantages for small businesses of using SM?

small businesses

In an article published by Intuit Websites called “How Small Businesses Are Using Social Media”  it is stated that the main reasons for a small business to enter into the SM channel are:

  • It is Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Their customers use SM
  • The best way to connect with customer and to keep in touch in a regular basis

So, there are multiple reasons why a small business should start a SM strategy, however, it is important to avoid common mistakes, that can damage the image of the business and its objectives of grow.

What to avoid…

  1. Having a plan before starting with the strategy is one of the most valuable advices for small businesses or any one. SM should be established with clear and measurable objectives about what the business wants to reach and this should go beyond “to engage customers”.
  2. Being consistent is another important variable for small businesses when establishing this strategy, this will keep the message on target and it will make the difference in front of other small businesses.
  3. Finally, being a good listeners and say thanks to people are also key variables of success fro small business in their SM strategy.

In general, SM media is an excellent strategy for any company, however, due to its low costs compared with other communicational channels, impact on general public and its wide scope; definitely it is a strategy that any small business should use, it is the best was to create relationships and to engage with customers. So, small businesses have now the opportunity to have a most important role in the marketplace and to benefit with a lower cost channel strategy compared with the traditional ones.

So, Small businesses go for your SM strategy!. Do not be afraid!

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Twitter knocks on the door of Big Banks…but how many of them allow it to enter?

twitter_money

Social Media is in anywhere, although not all the companies are applying Social Media strategies until now, many of them have realized the importance of being in this new era of communication.

Some of them are convinced about the benefits of these channels, others has discovered that is better to be there, otherwise you will not notice what it has been said about you…but other companies have given a different approach and have started using it as a support to their processes in the form of customer service channels…anyway, the important point is that a lot of companies are embracing SM.

Now, I am going to focus my attention on the bank industry. This industry has been a kind of slow when talking about SM implementation. However, to my surprise a big number of banks have started using SM, giving customers the opportunity to communicate in a more effective way with them.

I found an article that was talking about the current scenario of using Twitter in the bank industry, the name of the article is “Tweet This: 1 In 5 Banks Are Twitter Quitters”, and starting from the title it was amazing to me that 1 out of 5 banks in the US which started using Twitter, they just quit the channel in a short period…So, the problem is not to start, the problem is not to give up!…In accordance to this report, banks leaving twitter were active in avg. 1 year and 9 months before quitting.

Some interesting numbers about Twitter in the bank industry:

  • Citi was the bank with the largest number of new followers in 2011 (96925)
  • FirstMerit Bank had the highest incremental of new followers in 2011 in terms of
  • percentage (3980%).
  • BOFA Help was the twitter address with the highest number of new tweets sent in 2011.
  • BOFA News was the twitter address with the highest “twitter efficiency” (New Followers Per Tweet in last year: 100.31).
  • BOFA help is the twitter address with the highest number of fallowing to other accounts (34501)

But, what Citi, FirstMerit and BOFA have done to get these credits?

The response, all these banks are concentrating to help their customers through their Twitter accounts. These banks have discovered that Twitter can be the best way to help customers to solve their complaints without compromising their security.

twitter how can i help you

In the case of Citi,  and according to the article called “How Citibank Uses Twitter to Improve Customer Service” the bank has developed the twitter address @askCiti, which is a customer service channel considered highly efficient and effective by its customers. Through this channel, customers are receiving direct assistant from one of the 100 trained Citi agents in Social Media to solve any issue with the bank.

In general, some banks have discovered the power of Twitter and its connection with customers, leveraging customer assistance on this, but others, started using Twitter just as a way to follow a trend, without establishing a real commitment behind this and now they are giving up because they do not see any benefit…but what they do not know is that SM could be the element of real differentiation from competitors if the objectives are clear and the commitment is in first place.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Can we quantify the benefits of Social Media?

Measurin SM

It is a fact that Social Media (SM) is among us, it arrived to  stay and  it is defining  the new course of communication with our customers…As a result of this, managers have started to ask their teams for marketing programs related to the Social Media arena….and then, what these managers are asking for is the  associated  benefit  of  these SM  strategies and  more specifically and in technical words “the associated ROI”…

So, this  is  the  reason  why I  decided  to  write  about  the  benefits  and  also  the ways of measuring  SM   strategies..….My  main  purpose:  to   provide  an  answer  to   these managers and  to engage them with this new way of communication.

Going into detail,  what  I  have  seen  is  that  there  is  not  a  set  of  established metrics to determine the effectiveness of your SM strategy, what is  clear is  that  you can gather a lot of information from  SM, the  question  here  is  what to do  with this….Now, the benefits of each strategy will depend on the objective that it was set at the moment of defining this.

What  it  is  really  important  to  understand, is  that  SM is a two-way communication with your customers, so the benefit of any  SM is  mainly related  to  the feedback received from the  customer  and   the  task  of  the  marketer  is  to  decode  this  feedback  into   relevant information from the  company  according  to  its  objectives, information that is going to be used as an element of improve in this brand-customer connection.

SM Metrics 2

In found two interesting articles which stated different views about how to measure the benefits of Social Media, so I found them worth to share:

The first one is titled “New Metrics for Social Media”, this article stated 9 possible benefits to measure which are:

Response Tracking: This is related to how many people saw your message, how many of them reacted to that and how was this reaction. So, this can be measure by the number of “likes”. The number of followers and the content sharing through the SM channel.

Audience Profile: Who is visiting you, this means, building a profile of the people who are connected with you through SM.

Monitoring: involves scanning blogs, public forums and discussion groups for mentions of the company, its products and competitors.

Content Analysis: Identification of topics and positive or negative attitudes of people.

Connections: Expose the relationships among individuals.

Traffic analysis: Focus on understanding the reason of the relationships above described.

Influence: level of impact you have on your connections.

Case Management:  if SM is used for “customer service”, so what it is important is to identify, track and interact with individuals over time

 The second is titled “Social Media and Business” and  establishes  that  the  best  Social Media Metrics are Conversation, Amplification,  Applause, Economic Value.

Conversation Rate: measured by the number of Audience Comments (or Replies) per Post. “High  conversation  rate  requires  a deeper understanding of who your audience is, what your brand  attributes  are, what  you  are  good  at, what value you can add to your followers and the ecosystem you participate in”

Amplification: “the rate at which your followers take your content and share it through their network”

Applause:  Indicating a better understanding about your customer.

On Twitter: Applause Rate = # of Favorite Clicks per Post

On Facebook: Applause Rate = # of Likes per Post

On Google Plus: Applause Rate = # of +1s per Post

On a Blog, YouTube: Applause Rate = # of +1s and Likes per Post (or video)

Economic Value: Sum of Short and Long Term Revenue and Cost Savings

Many Criteria, no?…

If you continue looking for more options about how to measure Social Media, you will find a lot!…but, do  not  feel  overwhelmed…In  the  way  I see this is like a Menu, we  have  many options available to measure the benefits of our SM strategy, but the best recommendation is “do not lose the focus of the objective of your Social Media Strategy, having clear this you will be able to decide what kind of information to gather from that menu and how to analyze it and use it.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Social Media is Great!…So Useful!….but, We are not still prepared”… Is that Fear of Social Media?

Social Media Fear

I decided to write about this after reading some discussion about companies which are still afraid of Social Media…I asked myself, until what point this was true…

So,   I   went to  explore   a  little  bit  by  myself  and I asked some colleagues in important companies if they were using Social Media, and most of them responded that Social Media was really important but you had to commit to that, assign resources and so on, thus they decided “as a wise decision” to postpone Social Media for the future!…After that, I refused, why? Why did not you assign resources now instead of later? And there was not answer to that….So; I concluded that, in fact, this behavior was  “Fear of Social Media”

An interesting article published by Forbes called “Big Companies aren’t Using Social Media for Customer Service” gave some impacting numbers related to this:

  1. Over 50% of the Fortune  500  companies  do  not  provide  their  Twitter or Facebook pages on their contact pages of their websites.
  2. 27% do  not  provide  the links to  their Twitter or Facebook profiles anywhere on their websites.

After seeing these results, I was astonished with this information especially because of the magnitude of these companies. So, I  decided  to  research  by  myself  and  I entered to the websites of the first 50 companies in the list of  the Fortune 500, and  for my surprise 36% of these websites did not give any link to any  Social Media Tool at all, even as a part of the contact page….IT IS AMAZING, ISN’T IT?

Now, why do large companies still fear of Social Media?

companies

I have found many reasons for this, and I will describe them:

  1. Some managers still believe that Social Media is a trend, they have not realized that Social Media, does not matter the tool is the new way of communication, where the word “conversation” has become relevant with customers.
  2. Other consider that their customer do not use Social Media, however, most of the time these are assumptions that hide a lack of understanding about Social Media and  its  benefits  and   even a  lack of  confidence   about whether Social Media will  be beneficial for the brand.
  3. Some organizations consider Social Media a threat of security and privacy, and because of this they believe the best way to avoid this is to be way from that, but there is nothing further from the truth.

So, what can we do?

We, as the marketers of the new era, need to be agents of change!…we need to build the bridge between our companies  and  Social Media…but I know  this is  not an  easy  task!…

In the HBR Blog Network titled “Most Organizations Still Fear Social Media” there are a couple of useful advises that I would like to mention:

  1. The first one is to get some Executive Support, to convince someone in the executive team of the organization who is going to act as a sponsor of Social Media.
  2. The second one is to have a single implementation of Social Media but in an area that is highly sensitive to the organization e.g. employee health and safety. This strategy will create a positive awareness about Social Media and it will give the positive results and confidence the organization needs to start a full commitment in Social Media.

My conclusions, Social Media represents a change, A BIG ONE!…and as every change, it has stages of  transition, so  we need to move  forward  through  these stages and validate where our company is in order to design the best strategy to reach the end of this path and finally to implement Social Media, but most important, to believe in  this new  two-way of communication, in this conversation era with our customers.

Liliana

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

B2B and Social Media: Do they really match?

Image

   If you have had the opportunity to work for a B2B company or if you are working in one of these….Have you heard: “Social Media is just for B2C”….”Our customers do not pay attention to Social Media”….”Investing in Social Media is a waste of time and money”…..Well, I have, and this is the main reason to write about this topic.

     My entire professional life have been in B2B and in the past I used to hear these phrases, however, I have noticed a little but continue change in the way executive people in B2B companies think about Social Media. Some years ago it was almost impossible to include a Social Media strategy as a part of the marketing plan, but now, executive people are the ones who are asking for Social Media strategies and in this way, important parts of the marketing plan budget is being dedicated to these strategies….A BIG CHANGE!

     I found an interesting article in Forbes titled “B2B Marketers Need To Get Real About Social Media and Customer Engagement“, this article mentions how customers, regardless their specialties, are changing so fast with Social Media, faster than companies, specially B2B ones.

     B2B companies are used to share information with customers through excel sheets or some slides in power point presentations, however, customers are now demanding new ways of learning, interactive ones through which they can ask and receive feedback…and Social Media is an excellent channel to satisfy this demand, so B2B companies are realizing about this and they are now developing their skills about Social Media to reach these customers and to create relationships with them that go beyond the technical field, that are focused on branding.

     At the end, establishing emotional connections with customers and positive relations with them (regardless the type of businesses) is the best way to start building loyalty and to differentiate the brand from competitors.

Image

     Through my research, I also found another interesting article published by The Wall Street called “Manufacturers Sign on To Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter“, this article stated that about 68% of companies that sell products or services to other businesses said they engaged in social media marketing. Pretty good number for these kind of companies!...

     The article also mentions the following examples of companies engage with Social Media:

  1. Etratech Inc., an Electronics contract manufacturer began using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube in 2012.
  2. Caterpillar, the Construction and mining equipment manufacturer has developed separate Facebook sites for various constituencies, such as construction, power generation, paving, and financial services. Caterpillar also reaches customers with YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

   Both are excellent examples about how B2B companies are moving into the Social Media era, about how they are changing their minds from just being “solving problems companies” to “companies connected with their customers in order to understand their needs and help them with their problems”.

     However, there is still long way to go for these companies, they need to fully commit with a two-way interaction with their customers, they need to believe that Social Media is not a trend, it is a reality that is here to stay, to be part of the business, so companies need not just to give part of their budgets in Social Media Strategies, they need to involve their people in this, to compromise resources to connect people day-to-day, they need to integrate Social Media into their DNA.

 Liliana,

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments