The Number One Reason SMBs Go Social Is…

eMarketer commented on some new social data from Street Fight that identified the number one reason small business owners enter the waters of social media. Curious as to what it was? Are you?

Any guesses?

According to the data, the number one reason (49 percent) SMBs get involved in social media is to find new customers. Twenty-two percent were most concerned with their ability to target information to the right people, 16 percent were interested in bringing back repeat customers and 14 percent were hyper-focused on ROI. Really, though, what small business owners really want is new customers walking through their doors.

And if that’s the case, as a small business owner, what steps can you take to attract new customers to your business using social media?

1. Be Findable

Know what social networks your customers are logged into when they visit your site and make sure that you’ve developed a presence there. If you don’t know this right now, the post linked above can help you figure it out. There are also WordPress plugins that can help get the same information. And it’s invaluable information! Identifying what networks your customers are logged into when they visit your site tells you what sites you need to be developing content for, where you need to have a presence, and which sites you should be using for promotion. Why guess when your users are already telling you?

Part of being findable also means making sure to claim all of your business profiles on the various social networks and directories. It doesn’t matter if you plan to get active on FourSquare, your customers may be looking for you there. You want them to find the right information. The same goes for Facebook, Google Places, etc. Anywhere a customer could use social media to find you, you want to not only be listed, but listed consistently. As we’ve said previously, Knowem is a good tool to help you manage this process. Work smarter, not harder.

2. Eavesdrop on Social Conversations

Use Twitter Search to identify “anyone know” searches that your brand can benefit from. For example, I’ll often use Twitter to look for a place to get dinner, to get my car checked out, to find a place to go for Happy Hour. By doing a search for your keywords and filtering it to a specific neighborhood, you can find me, in the moment, and give me an incentive to visit your business. That’s huge.

But don’t just use Twitter! Take advantage of Google Alerts (free) or a service like Trackur (paid & free options) to monitor mentions of your brand or your industry and give yourself the opportunity to hop into relevant conversations via blogs, forums, and elsewhere. Go into LinkedIn Answers and search for people talking about your industry or topic there. People are having conversations about things related to your brand every day on various social media channels. Go find them and listen in.

3. Solicit Online Reviews

As you may know by now, online reviews and social media go hand-in-hand. Potential customers are using social media channels to seek out review information about brands to use as an indicator for whether or not they want to do business with them. To increase your authority and social appeal, every small business must become active about encouraging customers to leave reviews about their experiences with the brand.

How can you do this?

  • Ask people for reviews at multiple customer touch points like the point of sale, after the purchase emails, anniversaries, etc.
  • Make it easy for customers to leave reviews, maybe even include a page on your Web site that encourages the habit and links off to places where customers to go, if they choose to.
  • Manage your negative reviews by reaching out, engaging it, and finding ways to do right by your customers.

These are all very little things that can have a major impact on your brand’s ability to use social media to find new leads.

4. Start Blogging

Your customers are in social media soaking up content and brand interaction faster than any sponge that has come before them. So what are you giving them? Are you providing them with the content they need to deem your brand authoritative, helpful, and one they want to be associated with? Or are you standing on the sidelines, mute?

If you’re not blogging, start. If you need some inspiration, here are 20 content marketing ideas for 2012. You can do it. And your customers will thank you for it.

What’s your biggest reason for being in social media? Are you getting what you’re after?


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

5 Reactions
  1. To increase sales (profits?) is the fairly obvious answer and I suspect that the majority of a Small Business Owner’s activities are geared to doing that. The top three reasons you list are all about increasing sales.

    There are certainly some advantages that small businesses have over larger businesses in the social media world, the biggest is that social media should be a very personal sales tool. In our small business (4 employees) you can guarantee that you will be getting a personal (as opposed to corporate) opinion. We can also respond very quickly to comments both good and bad and make changes much quicker than larger companies.

    The final aspect where social media helps us is that so much more information is available that allows us to target potential customers at a much lower cost than ever before. In the old days, we’d have to exhibit at trade shows, advertise in the correct magazines, and try to get connections that way. Using tools like Linked In and Facebook, we can now get to our target market much more directly.

    But to answer your question, we use social media to help develop and maintain relationships with suppliers, customers and others that ultimately will help us generate sales and greater profits. Finding new customers is a big part of that.


  2. Mike the Gardener

    I agree that it is to find new customers, but I enjoy interacting with customers and potential customers, answering questions about the industry. The conversational engagement is very rewarding as you get to understand everyone’s concerns, ideas and suggestions.

  3. If 20 somethings are who you are after then social media is a must. here is our recent blog on 20 somethings

  4. Thank you for all the great insight. Online reviews do prove to be an effective way to exhibit your business. Client testimonials have a deep impact especially for prospective consumers seeking for solutions to their needs. Positive feedback can always be shared via social networking channels creating an awareness for your brand.

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