Small Businesses and Social Media – Yay or Nay?

Could your small business improve by using social media?

The majority of small businesses seem immune to the lure of social media. A potentially grisly mistake costing them $$$.

Hiscox, a small business insurance provider, polled 304 business leaders on their feelings and business uses of social media sites in June, according to Mashable.com.

The poll resulted in 64 percent of small business leaders checking social media off as something unnecessary and something they had no opinion about, according to eMarketer.com.

No opinion? Well, your (potential) consumers certainly do have an opinion.

“I usually look up a company to keep up on their deals and to watch for products,” Nicole Latti, Worcester, MA, wrote in a Facebook comment. “I’ve honestly only run into (the problem of no corporate Facebook account) once and I was really surprised. I feel that most companies have a Facebook now and to see one without was rare and disappointing.”

Consumers are using Facebook to check up on the brands, products and companies they buy or may buy from. As discussed in Facebook: A Popular Destination for Retail Promotions, 56 percent of consumers admit to using retailer’s Facebook page to keep track of promotions and products, according to Compete’s Online Shopper Intelligence Study.

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Facebook: A Popular Destination for Retail Promotions.

Facebook dominates as the leading social networking space.

According to The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 92 percent of social networking site users use Facebook. In contrast, 29 percent of #SM media users use MySpace, 18 percent use LinkedIn and 13 percent use Twitter. (For those of you interested, here is a link to the complete report).

An even greater statistic to marketers?

Social media consumers use these platforms regularly. The report states 52 percent of Facebook users and 33 percent of Twitter users engage with the sites daily. Adults, 35 and older, using the internet have doubled since 2008 and the numbers are only going to continue to rise.

What this boils down to is a consumer market ready for interaction on social media spaces, especially on Facebook.

“Online consumers are now using retailer’s Facebook pages as online circulars to engage with brands online,” according to Compete’s Online Shopper Intelligence Study.

Compete’s report states that one quarter of consumers now visit an official Facebook page for a retailer or a product at least a month. With approximately 56 percent admitting to using a retailers’ Facebook page to keep up with sales or promotions.

A few Retailer and Product Example Facebook pages

“Our data show that Facebook pages can be a highly strategic and relatively low-cost marketing tool for retailers to engage with shoppers,” said Debra Arbesman, Compete senior associate, retail and consumer products. “Savvy retailers are now making Facebook pages part of an integrated online shopping experience, and we expect this model will take the industry by storm in the coming months.”

More than 20 percent of consumers said Facebook pages have been “influential” or “extremely influential” in making a purchasing decision. (Just remember, social media sites for retailers can be good or bad. Having a poor social media presence is worse than having none).

Original photo courtesy of media.giantbomb.com

When’s the last time you’ve seen a T.V. commercial or print ad without mention of a Facebook page?

Are you more prone to visit the retailer or product website or their Facebook page? These are all questions we ask ourselves when hearing such significant statistic analysis on “our” habits.

Do you find yourself in any of the categories listed below?

I know I do.

Graphic courtesy of Compete.com

 

Digital Media Education Dedication

Photo courtesy of sonicko.com

I remember a time when the tools were just there to be used without purpose or strategy. That the conversation alone was sufficient. Now, strategic measures are necessary to promote messages and information along the inter-webs. Introducing new tools, new messages and new methods to communicate the news or to market your brand.

Two way conversation between consumer and producer – through tools such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and video – are beneficial and necessary in today’s current communication’s world. To build connections, consistent posting and interaction are key to build my professional brand.

In pursuit of a greater brand image, I’ve developed my Twitter account, bought my own domain name brand, jkumor, and increased posting frequency. I’ve learned how to link articles and create video shorts.

Digital media has become a new venture I am happy to facilitate as I travel through the world of communications. I’ve attained the skills and knowledge to pioneer the tools strategically for whatever company or news organizations I work for in the future.

NPR: Digital Genius

Photo Courtesy of NewsJunkiePost.com

National Public Radio (NPR) represents a media organization thriving in the digital space to create and distribute news. Innovative uses of social media, their blog and linking themselves to their content producers and respected outlets, drive clicks to their website.

NPR consists of a network of 900 independent stations and 27.5 million listeners a week. The organization is working to ensure a traditional form of communication, the radio, stays alive and well in the modern age with the savvy use of the newest form of communication – social media.

Communicators across the United States bemoan the death of the “old media” due to social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and bloggers. However, perhaps the “old media” would have a higher survival rate if the implemented strategic digital media to their services similar to NPR’s.

Here are just a few ways NPR is utilizing social media to connect to their community – because in today’s world your audience interacts with you not just you to them.

 NPR’s Website

NPR’s website stands-in-attention as one of the most content filled websites I’ve ever been on. You could easily get lost for days perusing videos, photos or articles on a variety of topics. However, while you may get  wander lust if you are constantly salivating to explore the next piece (like me), that is not to say it is a hard website to navigate. NPR’s design allows readers to interact with the content and follow the trail of bread crumbs of information around the site. Savvy tags and hyperlinks contribute to the ease of following a topics timeline of coverage. An intelligent move considering how much content is thrown on that website every hour.

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Wal-Mart’s Social Media Blunders

Photo courtesy of consumerqueen.com.

 

Wal-Mart owns a history of social media blunders spanning over a decade.While initial fopauxs are expected in social media spaces as their qualities are being defined, Wal-Mart seems to take the cake as one of the worst Fortune 500 Company’s presence on social media. Wal-Mart is not only a Fortune 500 Company but THE Fortune 500 Company, ranking in at number 1 in 2010, according to CNN.com. Their poor history overshadows any current strides – making Wal-Mart one of the number one companies wishing to purchase the “Last Night Never Happened” App to erase social media blunders.

Wal-Mart’s Disasterous Social Media History

 

  • 2006 The Hub Social Network only lasts 10 WeeksWal-Mart’s attempt to compete with then giant MySpace where actors, models and famous for something people populated the space and pushed Wal-Mart products, according to SocialMediaReinvention.com.

  • Sept. 2006 Media Reveals Wal-Mart’s Fake Blog – An indie success blog portrayed a couple’s cross country travels in an RV using Wal-Mart parking lots as their rest stops and travel experiences. Fraud. Turns out the whole scheme was cooked up and supported by Wal-Mart as a business venture. Result – Consumers felt betrayed and Wal-Mart suffered significant negative news coverage. Continue reading

Introducing a Marketers Dream – the QR Code

QR Codes enable creative new ways for marketers to direct a message. Photo courtesy of RewardMeApp.com

You may tilt your head in confusion upon first contact. Are they a jigsaw puzzle? A graphic mishap? An over pixellated image?

Nope.

Welcome to the age of the QR Code. Short for Quick Response, these codes add promise of a new and direct communication venue.

A smartphone is required to use a QR Code. However, our growing obsession with our cell phones and the next and greatest in technology will certainly allow this slight hiccup to dissolve away in the next few years. Don’t we all have smartphones by now? One in two Americans will own a smartphone by Christmas 2011, according to Nielson.

Guess I better get on the band wagon. Even I’m not on a smartphone – yet. Drat those pricey data plans.

How QR Codes work?

  1. Download a QR Code scanning application to your smartphone.
  2. Find a QR Code in a magazine, on a billboard or merchandise.
  3. Open the scanning app and use your phone’s camera to focus the code on your screen.
  4. The QR scanning app will read the code and automatically open up the link, photo or video the code directed it to.
  5. An internet connection and smartphone are necessary.

 If you haven’t seen a QR Code yet, or don’t remember – be patient – you will soon.

***More on the subject later in a post on how/where/why QR Codes are growing in popularity.