As a small business owner, you’ve officially entered the waters of social media. You’re blogging, you’re Twittering and you’re working hard to create a social presence. Why are you doing it? What is your ultimate business goal for your social media efforts?
Well, according to a July 2010 survey of U.S. marketers by the Direct Marketing Association and COLLOQUY, the most popular business goal is brand awareness, with 28 percent of respondents hailing it as their ultimate social media objective. Following close behind were customer growth/loyalty (25 percent) and customer acquisition (19 percent).
To give those numbers some street cred, eMarketer notes:
A July eROI study similarly showed brand awareness was the top goal of U.S. marketers using social media, and business-to-business (B2B) marketers reported the same to BtoB magazine and Business.com. In April, search marketers surveyed by MarketingSherpa cited increasing brand awareness and improving brand reputation as the two objectives for which social media marketing was most effective.
I’d definitely agree with the surveys that have found brand awareness is a leading reason for business owners to get involved in social media. By constantly engaging in conversations, creating content, and starting conversations with potential customers, you’re letting people know, time and time again, that you exist and you’re listening. The effects over the long term are significant as customers start to associate your brand with a particular product or service.
However, I’d urge small business owners not to discount social media’s effectiveness as a lead generation tool simply because lead generation got 19 percent of the vote from business owners. You may remember that back in June we commented on a Unisfair survey that found social media to be the number-one emerging channel for lead generation. The reason its numbers were so low in the July survey are likely because of the size of the budgets represented. Customer acquisition is a bigger focus for small business owners than it is for those running midsized to large businesses, so they overshadowed the SMB perspective a bit in the more recent survey. If you’re a small business owner, however, customer acquisition is definitely an area where social media can give you a big boost.
Ultimately, you’ll decide your own goals for your social media use and tailor your social media plan to fit whatever they are. If you’re focusing primarily on customer acquisition, you’ll be doing a lot more outreach than if you’re simply trying to grow brand awareness and increase the visibility of your website. Social media is a powerful tool that helps business owners connect with their audience and make their brand more accessible. What you choose to focus on is up to you.
What about you? What’s your main objective for entering the world of social media? What have your results been like?