By Jason Feller, PowerSites Content & Community Manager
Social Media: Online communities where users engage with one another and their favorite brands in an interactive format.
Competing with the big boys as a small business isn’t easy. The major brands have inherent advantages that can be very difficult to overcome.
Thanks to social media, however, small businesses can turn the tables and capitalize on their strengths.
Two of the most significant ways in which small businesses have an edge are in customer loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising.
Social media allows small businesses the opportunity to build on both.
In his blog post Why Small Business Have A Huge Advantage Over Brands In Social Media, Francisco Rosales adroitly points out “Brands are far from becoming human and getting the user engaged for real. … They will take advantage of your special deal or rant about bad experiences but that’s it. When it comes to small business, it’s easy for an individual to become the voice of the company, a personal brand that builds trust around a product or service with a human touch.”
That distinction is critical. Small businesses have thrived for generations because of their ability to create personal relationships with their customers. This leads to customer loyalty and prevents those customers from taking their business elsewhere.
The same concept applies with social media. The major brand might have five million fans/followers, but those five million could be less valuable than the 500 a small business has, because the small businesses’ community is likely to be much more engaged.
Another key to remember is that building customer loyalty is a long-term strategy. Print ads in the PennySaver are still probably your best bet for having an immediate impact.
As Mark Schaefer explains in his article, How does a small business move into social media marketing?, “For many small companies, the result from social media marketing is more like the long-term benefits of networking at a chamber of commerce meeting. … short-term benefits are certainly possible — but in general, aim for long-term benefits such as increasing customer loyalty.”
When it comes to word-of-mouth advertising, social media has immense potential. It’s much more common for people to tell their friends about some new burger joint they just discovered than it is for them to talk to their friends about some major brand.
The beauty of this is that it doesn’t even require you to do any work, but having a great product. Your product will spread through social media organically. And by paying attention to when your product is mentioned on social media in a positive (or negative) light, you can respond directly to your customers and help spread the word even more.