While not all small and medium sized businesses may be completely convinced of the power of social media marketing, Forrester forecasts that in 2017 businesses in the UK will be spending £675m (€816.5m) on it. This brings into sharp focus the importance that organisations, of all scales, are placing on this channel.

Statistics aside, however, the fact remains that the benefits of using social media marketing for SMBs are significant. In a nutshell, it’s a cost-effective way of interacting with customers, promoting a brand and generating leads. Selling social media to your SMB clients can be a tough ask – however, the benefits should speak for themselves.

Guaranteed exposure

A good social media presence provides excellent exposure for brands, bringing the company, its products and or services to a wider audience effectively and efficiently. In addition, using the tools provided by platforms for reporting, search and analytics, a company is better placed to target exactly the right audience for a specific campaign or promotion.

Don’t leave a gap

Too often the attitude is – none of my competitors are using social media so why should I? If this is the case, it is the perfect opportunity for the small business to get there first, establish themselves as the experts and gain significant competitive advantage. The combination of a decent website, social media presence and good content creates the impression that a business knows what it’s talking about and ultimately drives consumer perceptions of trust.

Presence equates to traffic

Regardless of whether a business sells online, consumers use the Internet to research companies, services and products. Having a website with an embedded Twitter feed, for example, will establish a business’ credibility, while using Twitter and Facebook to link back to the corporate website or mention products or promotions, can increase traffic. This ultimately leads to better conversion rates for e-commerce sites. In addition, social media can assist in lead generation, and quality lead generation at that.

It’s cost-effective

Not only are social media campaigns economical (and often free) to implement and track, they can assist in bringing down overall marketing spend as well. This is particularly relevant for regional businesses that, using social media such as Facebook, can target exactly who they need to based on audience demographics.

It’s relatively easy

Unlike traditional marketing campaigns, social media efforts are fairly quick and easy to implement, given the mechanism is already in place. They are also measurable in real time so changes can be made if necessary. Having a credible, relevant and current presence on channels such as Twitter or Facebook does require effort in terms of generating content though. However, if the SMB finds this too challenging, or doesn’t have the know-how, there are a number of user-friendly and cost-effective tools out there to assist – including scheduling platforms and content creation services.

Google likes it

Making use of multiple social media platforms with content that is constantly updated – at least a few times per day – identifies a website as being socially active. If the feed is correctly embedded into a website it will hugely increase Google’s crawler interest and help an SEO team make improvements in organic search rankings.

Target your audience

Social media is a marketer’s demographic dream. Not only can you target followers based on geography and keywords, you can also “invite” your competitor’s customers to view your wares. Simply follow your ideal followers, and the polite etiquette of social media means around 50 per cent will follow you back. A morning’s fishing can bring a haul of new potential clients to your feed.

Get to know your customers

Social media is all about engagement – two way communication between a business and a customer. Not only does using Twitter, Facebook or Google+ enable a business to communicate with a more personal touch, it also allows companies to know, understand and predict their customers’ behaviour better.

Increased Authority

When deciding who to buy from, many social savvy customers will check out your social media channels. Posting relevant industry tips, tricks and trivia will improve your industry authority and help increase your website’s conversion rate. If you have a busy embedded social feed on your website, your industry authority is improved even further.

The way to improved customer service

Enhanced engagement can lead to improved customer service. Social media channels allow companies to talk directly with customers and vice versa. In this way, feedback can be collected for future customer service initiatives, support can easily be given and complaints quickly resolved due the accessibility and directness of social media.

If social media budgets and anticipated spending are anything to go by social media as a marketing channel is here to stay. With the benefit and opportunities that social media brings, especially to SMBs, the time to get on board is now. If you haven’t got the time to get involved, consider outsourcing it. A professional social media content service is always going to achieve better results than leaving the job to a junior member of staff or the work experience placement, and will also be able to deliver a demonstrable return on investment.

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