While starting a small business can offer a multitude of rewards for many different kinds of people, there is little doubt that there will also be a number of major challenges in accomplishing this. Somebody will need to start with a basic idea of a product or service to provide, and then even after a business plan is in order, there will be a need to pitch lenders so capital can be secured.
As the Guardian reported in April 2014, social media has been a blessing for many small-to-medium enterprises (SME). The catch is that the sheer number of tools available can be daunting. Businesses must strike a balance between focusing too narrowly on limited social networks and spreading themselves too thinly by adopting too many.
Dani Booth of Jelf Small Business told the Guardian his company focuses on the “big four” of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ and advises others to keep their efforts manageable and their accounts active.
“There are few things more embarrassing than a Twitter account that was set up and forgotten with only one lonely tweet present,” Booth said. “Twitter is filled with people who have set up an account, said ‘hello’, and then abandoned said account because no one replied. Don’t be that guy.”
One business owner who has decided to focus their efforts was Maria Bateson. She set up a Facebook page for her silver charms business, which helped it to build up a loyal following, and now most of her customers come from Facebook. Bateson first turned to Facebook while living in Ukraine and found it was the best way of getting her designs visible to customers in the United Kingdom. Now based in London, she finds Facebook groups devoted to crafting are a good way of getting her designs showcased.
Another Facebook fan is Alison Howell, the founder and managing director of the 10-year-old travel company Foottrails who came to social media relatively late. She made the decision to focus on Facebook and Twitter because of limited resources and has used both networks since 2012. “Social media does take time,” says Howell, who takes on most of the responsibilities for social media herself. “I think it is best to focus on just a few networks and regularly update those.”
Anna Lundberg, a digital marketing consultant at Crocus Communications, told the Guardian that Facebook and Twitter represent a good starting point. She advised considering a target market’s age, gender, and interests before widening social media efforts. “YouTube is useful if you have video content and Google+ for search engine optimization reasons more than anything else,” she adds.
Here are some potential advantages of hiring a social media agency if you are a small business:
- Business Marketing — Business marketing will be a major benefit of hiring a social media agency, and an agency will promote products or services through effective strategies. Marketing is the specialty of a social media agency, so they will be certain to get results. Most companies manage a brand’s presence on all social networking sites while working to get the attention of the maximum audience possible.
- Building Brand Recognition — Social media agencies work to get brands recognized on all social media platforms and to get brands talked about among influencers. Social media trends change daily, so it is wise to work with someone who is familiar with the landscape. Social media professionals will know where to start, which platforms to use, and which type of content can get results.
- Getting Clientele — Social media agencies are all about helping businesses get more clients. An agency may use numerous social media strategies to carry out goals, such as creating posts, sharing, liking, and tweeting. An agency will make sure that your social media profiles remain active, and more importantly, that you are interacting with the customers with who you are trying to create relationships.
- Projecting Brand Values — A social media agency will be able to focus on the strongest aspects of your small business and effectively advertise those strong suits. This can be important because an agency will help a small business effectively communicate its larger goals and message to potential customers. There could be a number of different benefits that an agency will explore over the course of a relationship, and most efforts will generally help create a more favorable image with the general public.
- Brand Promotion — One of the largest goals of working with any social media agency is to try and grow the size of the audience viewing social media posts. An agency is going to be constantly working to show you increased followers or likes that translate to your ads being seen by more people. When you work with a digital marketing agency, they will generally have a strong idea of how to make your content appealing across all available channels.
- Dealing with Competition — One major thorn in the side of most small businesses can be their competitors. It can be hard to ignore when a competing small business has more followers or is otherwise generating more social media reactions. The good news when working with a social media agency is that they will not ignore this aspect and will actively work to close any gap. You can give yourself the strongest chance of being able to compete by working with an agency.
- Achieving Goals in Less Time — The simple truth is that a small business attempting to handle social media on its own can spend an inordinate amount of time simply trying to come up with material. When you work with an agency, they can handle all of these concerns for you so you can focus on running your business. An agency is going to be working full-time to produce material for you, so you will never have to worry about creating material on your own.
The biggest challenges small businesses face include a lack of leads, online and offline visibility issues, lack of marketing knowledge, lack of time, and small budgets. A 2021 survey published by Fundera found:
- 41 percent of local businesses depend on social media to drive revenue.
- 74 percent of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions.
- 96 percent of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.
- 81 percent of shoppers research online before purchasing.
- 60 percent of consumers begin their product research with a search engine before heading to a particular website.
- 75 percent of local-intent mobile searches result in offline store visits within 24 hours.
- 11 percent of small businesses that don’t have a website don’t see value in it.
- 92 percent of business owners believe that having a website is the most effective digital marketing strategy.
- Customers who engage with a business on social media spend up to 40 percent more with them in the long term.
- 41 percent of brick-and-mortar buyers read reviews before making a purchase.
- Prior online research led to 13 percent greater in-store spending among omnichannel shoppers.
- Within six months after an omnichannel shopping experience, these customers logged 23 percent more repeat shopping trips to the retailer’s stores.
- 47 percent of businesses spend less than $10,000 on digital marketing.
- 1 in 5 small businesses doesn’t utilize digital marketing.
- 1 in 10 small businesses doesn’t invest in any kind of marketing.
- 64 percent of small businesses have a website.
- 35 percent of small businesses without a website believe they are too small to have one.
- The top two channels for customer research are online reviews at 55 percent and company websites at 47 percent.
- 92 percent of reviews that consumers shared online were positive.
- 91 percent of customers have visited a store because of an online experience.
- Nearly 90 percent of marketers say social marketing efforts have increased their business’s exposure.
- At 54 percent use, email is the top marketing tool used by small businesses.
- Email marketing’s average ROI is 122 percent.
- 46 percent of all Google searches have local intent.
- 47 percent of small business owners run marketing entirely on their own.
- Almost half of small businesses spend less than two hours per week on marketing efforts.
- 75 percent of small business owners think that internet marketing is very effective or effective for attracting new customers.
- 61 percent of marketers say their biggest challenges are generating traffic and leads.
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