Social media came at us like a wreckingggg ballll, one moment it was controversial enough to just have a business website, the next saw the rise of social media. For many businesses the opportunity to interact with anyone, anywhere, anytime was too world-changing (albeit terrifying) to ignore and SM since has crucially impacted the way in which we do business.
Benefits of following the trend
There are many benefits of using social media in small business, internally they create new opportunities on systemising and communicating between employees, but it is in the external opportunities created that really highlights the impact of getting on board the social media bandwagon. And it is mostly a marketing related view from that wagon.
The power of social media marketing levels the playing field for small businesses with the large corporations as it enables them to directly communicate with their consumers for little to no cost. Not-for-profits find this essential as this chance to get there message out to the world with no cents spent on marketing is a game changer and a literally life-saver to many. As mentioned in Business to community, it reinforces the business brand, by getting your message across in more media than ever before. Also increases lead generation that would otherwise be left cold by allowing ease of information access. Social media provides businesses to gain invaluable customer feedback, insight and recommendations through the built up brand communities found on various platforms.
BIG or small, social media does it all
Clearly there are many benefits of social media, but those discussed above are in a B2C context. B2C is a marketing term for business to consumer, B2B however is business to business and social media is beneficial in regards to this as well. Wang, Pauleen and Zhang (2016) address how business performance is improved by social media applications affecting B2B communication. Business can target other businesses to buy their services with help of social media. Take LinkedIn for example, it’s an excellent social networking site where a businesses can seek out the appropriate person to contact in order to make a business proposition too. Without this network, the connection may never have been possible.
What businesses are starting to realise, whether B2C or B2B, big or small is that social media does not discriminate. Big businesses differ from small businesses in that they will have planned social media strategies with teams dedicated to monitoring and controlling every social media platform they utilize, with much larger budgets to dominate the media. Small businesses are more likely to have a smaller presence and be found on just a select few social media sites. However, as social media is beginning to even the odds, even a small business has the same chance to gain awareness through a viral video, if the right content is provided.
Let it goooo, let it goooo, let it gooooo, mobile.
Businesses are just beginning to come to successful terms with social media, yet thanks to the rapidly evolving technological world in which we live they are now being challenged with the prospect of mobile social media. Mobile social media differs from traditional social media in that it is speeding up the process of reaching the end consumer.
70% percent of people in New Zealand own a smartphone. With this statistic and the availability of other technology, like GPS, GSM, Bluetooth, RFID and iBeacons, it will make the access to information & services, sometimes even at a precise locations, more accessible and easier than ever before. From the most simple adoption such as mobile friendly website version, to mobile website apps to getting alerts through bluetooth frequencies in a store, mobile media creates the message in real time. Showing the most updated communications with consumers literally a pockets-reach away. This is where mobile marketing will differ from traditional social media as they will not need to connect to a computer to receive information. Andreas Kaplan explains the uses of mobile media in marketing research, communication, sales promotions/discounts and relationship development/loyalty programs.
Does social media have alarm bells?
The answer is yes. As with most controversial and beneficial additions to humanity’s advancement there are also pitfalls, social media and mobile media is no different with many detrimental risks. Some potential risks are listed below but are not limited to:
- Negative comments or feedback are hard to control and can cause a wildfire for a small business where their entire reputation is on the line.
- Negative publicity. Even the slightest unrelated thing can now be brought to light for businesses that otherwise would have got away with their doings before hand.
- If social media is not done correctly or efficiently, a company risks costly resources such as time or budget with no ROI.
- Inadequate preparation to account for increased demand is a risk, particularly within SME’s, as this can cause long wait times or a bad consumer experience which in turn will damage the brand.
- Oversharing is a massive risk with real consequences, from financial risk to driving consumers away with too much spam. Businesses must actively manage their content and listen to consumers to remain aware of content sharing.
- Ace Group have published a report specifically addressing the reputation, legal and operational risks of social media that business owners must consider that are often overlooked in the excitement of the new media.
- Then there is the bigger picture issue, that by increasing the time spent on devices that connect us to places, services, people and information (especially with the rise of mobile media) there is the underlying issue that we are becoming disconnected as a society in result.
Thoughts on this…
I have witnessed first hand the benefits of social media for small businesses being the difference between success and failure. In saying this…
- How many businesses are aware of these risks. and
- What must a company do to pro actively manage these risks?
Let me know your thoughts on this information and also what additional risks there are for SME’s and NPO’s and big business alike.
References in order of appearance:
Wang, W. Y., Pauleen, D. J., & Zhang, T. (2016). How social media applications affect B2B communication and improve business performance in SMEs. Industrial Marketing Management, 544-14. doi:10.1016/j.indmarman.2015.12.004
Kaplan, A. M. (2012). If you love something, let it go mobile: Mobile marketing and mobile social media 4×4. Business Horizons,55129-139. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2011.10.009