Though it may be hard to believe these days, there are still plenty of businesses that doubt the validity of social media both as a marketing tool and for its actual ability to generate sales.
For example, back in May, a survey conducted by Citibank Small Business, a division of Citigroup Inc., found that three quarters of respondents in a survey of 500 U.S. small businesses with 10 employees or less saw no value in using social media sites to grow their business while 86 percent said they didn’t even consult them for helpful info.
Meanwhile, in a recent interview on the Bigg Success blog, Jay Ehret of The Marketing Spot also insists there is “no hard data that says social media marketing is more effective than any other form of marketing out there.”
While we won’t quibble with the assertion, here at BizSugar.com where small business social media is what we’re all about, we would argue there are some important ways social media can generate sales:
First, as BizSugar member Todd Youngblood insists, if nothing else, social media is a great way to share expertise with a target market of prospects. (Listen to his podcast and check out how expertise in the manufacturing industry can be clearly shared with an audience from that market.) Social media makes it easier to find others in your target market and to share content demonstrating your expertise with them.
In a conversation between two long-time BizSugar members, David Siteman Garland of Rise To The Top and John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing discuss how the use of social media can help generate referrals. Using social media channels makes it easy for those who already are your fans to share your message with others.
Boost brand awareness
BizSugar member Aliza Sherman of The Creative Freelance Conference Blog suggests at least five ways that anyone can use social media to build a brand online including establishing a personality others can relate to and providing helpful and consistent information.
BizSugar member and sales consultant Timor Shanto insists engagement remains the most important step in the sales process. Social media helps speed this engagement and, as John Jantsch suggests in the link above, also the building of trust with prospective customers whether the final sale takes place online or face-to-face.
Want to know how to create value with social media? A better way to approach this question might be to examine techniques that don’t add value, like BizSugar member Niall Devitt’s list of things that will likely encourage others to sever their relationship with you.
Have some other suggestions about how to take social media for small business to the next level? We’d love to hear from you.