Social Media

Why isn’t your small business social?

Fi Bendall /

The research is out: SMEs need to become more social!

In the past decade the business world has seen the maturation of social media. The majority of the developed world is logged-in and online, with the developing world rising in leaps and bounds through access to smartphones.

In Australia, Facebook reigns supreme with an overwhelming majority of the population having an active account. Followed quickly by LinkedIn and Instagram. The device used to access these sites I hear you ask? The humble smartphone is the definitely the most popular. Aside from the connected consumer, where does this leave business – and in particular, the SMEs?

Recently, the Yellow Pages released their updated 2014 social media report on Australia and found some interesting insights on how exactly social media is being used by SMEs and whether or not larger businesses are winning the race when it comes to effectively harnessing this digital landscape.

The SMEs seem to be lagging behind. It has been reported that only 36% of SMEs have a social media presence, as opposed to large business that has 77%. Furthermore, less than half of the SME sector utilises the character of social media to its fullest extent, with only about 45% of businesses using two-way communication with consumers.

(Source: Sensis)

Let’s talk logistics here – for SMEs, social media is a necessity. 

We have seen small domestic retailers compete with the big boys doing a fab job of using all the free and low cost tools of the internet to be an online e-retailer. Any SME, whether B2C or B2B can use social media to get ahead, add to this the matrix of free tools from organisations like Google, and SMEs can compete with anyone in the most efficient way.

Social media and some of those free tools take just a little bit of work and resources to be done effectively. Have you thought about the time of day that you post on your company’s Facebook page? Or perhaps the length of the video you just shot for Instagram?

There are a lot of resources available to help you curate content that will engage consumers but ultimately turn around profits from the time spent on social media and deliver profits.

A few tips to get started

1. Timing is key; the date and even the hour. Do your research and see when your audience is most engaged (little hint, HootSuite is a great little program that allows you to automate posts).

2. Tell a story, everyone loves to hear a good story. What makes your business different from the one down the road? Let us know, and tell us – it’s important to have branded content that represents your business values. If you innovate, tell us about innovation (Instagram is a great way to visualise your story-telling).

3. Be selective, be intelligent – be relevant. Think about your audience, really think about them. Then listen to them and see what’s happening. Be where they are, not where you want them to be. It’s paramount that you tailor your content on each platform to them; this simple technique will improve your market penetration.

4. Get on to Google, use their free analytics, AdWords tools and go to Get Your Business Online with Google.

5. Don’t stop there, learn from what the social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn) are doing – SME is a big target for them.

6. Don’t limit yourself to Aussie sites to get advice – here is a great blog that really helps SMEs – and here’s some great advice from them on Instagram.

It’s not that much hard work for the potential returns, so it’s definitely worth having a go. Who knows, you might end up with a cult following and have diehard loyalists that shed tears when you release a new type of banoffee pie! With social media – it could happen.

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Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Female Social Network and a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, who was described by CEO Magazine as 'The CEO's Secret Weapon'. An expert and pioneer in digital strategy, she has over 23 years’ experience in the digital and tech sectors.

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