Marketing refers to the activity of a business, promoting itself to sell its services. With the advent of technology came a new way of reaching out to new customers despite their locations. Social media marketing refers to a scenario whereby a business franchise advertises its services or products through the use of various online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, among others. Social media has a significant impact when it comes to attracting customers in that; the ability to appeal to a new set of individuals without necessarily meeting them makes it a powerful tool. To small and medium-sized enterprises, social media comes in as the bridge through which the franchises can grow to meet the expected objectives. This paper is going to give an insight into social media marketing and its impacts on small and medium-sized enterprises, basing its arguments on several sources as primary reference materials.
Social media marketing and its application in small firms.
Social media marketing involves the use of various platforms to connect with the targeted audience to build a brand, drive website traffic, and increase sales. A primal aspect of social media marketing is the setting of various goals and objectives that are to be obtained through social media.it is essential that the business sets goals on Parameters that will constitute a real impact on the business. According to the authors of small business smarts, for any growing start-ups, it is essential to have a framework guiding marketing on various social media platforms. (O’Leary et al. 2011). In so doing, the SME will ensure that their objective is to get customers instead of acquiring likes upon posting content.
Human beings are a forgetful species; therefore, it is upon business to ensure it remains relevant by creating content that reminds the audience of its presence. Creating a social media calendar is essential for a firm as it helps the business to be able to post the right material to the right social platform at the time. According to VanRysdam, a social media calendar is essential to a small business as it enables the business to remain relevant to its customers through constant appeal (VanRysdam 2010). In so doing, the company will ensure that their customers are in continuous engagement with them developing a relationship which ultimately is beneficial
An essential aspect of the application of social media marketing on firms is deciding which platforms are right for the business. According to Öztamur and his co-author, despite many social marketers fixating on volumetric knowledge of the audience is essential and needs to be considered in the pre-launch phase (Öztamur et al. 2014). Awareness of the audience is vital as it helps to channel resources to the required medium. For instance, a new start-up is targeting millennials, and the strategy in place is to focus on current trending social media platforms such as Instagram instead of Facebook. However, a considerable percentage of millennials still use Facebook; therefore, they might have passed on a broader audience. It is essential that the owner of the firm, conducts thorough research to determine where a majority of the audience spends their time online.
Delivery of quality service and products through marketing and social media follows after effective advertisements. Since small enterprises are trying to build ion their various areas, generation of income is vital to the survival of the business. According to Karimi and his co-author, in small firms, marketing is used for immediate needs, and little attention is paid to plans and strategies as SME’s direct attention to save to survive. (Karimi et al. 2015). Therefore, it follows that social media is an important tool for SME’s as it helps in the sustenance of day to day activities through bringing in revenue.As such, social media must be given the attention it deserves.
Building customer relationships is vital when it comes to small and medium enterprises. A unique aspect about social media marketing it allows for small business to engage directly with their customers, from there or trustworthy relationship can be built over time. According to Öztamur and his co-author, 40% of all customers who buy clothes in the fashion industry get a hint of what they want through various social media handles (Öztamur et al. 2014).Therefore, it follows that building good customer relationships is vital to expanding the business.
On the other hand, responding to customer feedback and awarding prizes on various competitions posted on social media handles is significant to upholding a personal relationship with the customers. Another important point is that the company shares the customer views as it is crucial for business retention (Öztamur et al. 2014). For instance, an SME that sales leather bags to individuals across various parts of the globe. A customer orders a bag via the Facebook page handle and pays online, only to receive damaged goods. The customer airs out the complaint only to find his comment on the company wall and an apology plus another delivery. Such an action would make the customer feel appreciated, and it is more likely he will shop at the SME again.
The use of compelling visuals comes in handy when advertising via social media. Every business can tell its story through the use of videos and photos. Companies can showcase their product through attractive and catchy videos that keep the clientele interested while still passing the message across. According to Evans, engagement is central to the effective use of social technology and the creation of social business, part of which a core element is imagery and videos(Evans 2010). Therefore, it follows that the use of videos and photos make a handle more appealing where customers can engage with the business. As such, many companies are currently offering direct services such as skype despite having numerous video content which is appealing to the customer yet informative about the brand of concern
Strategies of social media in SME’s
Authenticity is critical in showing the audience that the person in charge of the product is indeed the owner. The brand has to exceed the standard limit of being corporate looking and dull, but instead, it should maintain its focus on being original. Clients ought to have a way of associating with the type of brand offering. According to Bowen and his co-author, authenticity creates a sense of community between the business and the customer, enabling the customers to relate with the SME of concern (Bowen at al. 2016). For instance, a social media page such as moon pie the American pie company, which uses Twitter to its advantage. A key element, as expressed by the various tweets on its handle, is that personality is vital.
Regularly engaging with customers, is another significant factor in ensuring that business creates awareness on social media. According to Robinson, one of the hugest opportunity that social media express are ways to instantly connect with and address your followers (Robinson 2015). This ensures that the customers are in constant engagement with the company generates a positive buzz on the various social media platforms. For instance, a company could do the following to enhance its discussion with customers:
- Generation of engaging Instagram stories and posts to announce the arrival of new products
- Employing the use of twitter handle to get back to clients as soon as possible and focusing efforts on the reaction of an excellent brand personality
- Starting a Facebook page and employing the use of messaging to interact with customers and addressing their issues.
- Additionally, Facebook has the tools to engage in various discussions
An important strategy is the traditional form of marketing, which entails building awareness through word of mouth. Through constant appearance on an individual’s application or social media handles, the more likely the chance the user will remember the brand. In so doing, should the service rendered or delivered be of high quality yet pocket-friendly, the customer is more likely to tell a friend or an acquaintance which spread the brand of the business. According to Öztamur, interactive interaction with clientele enables them to generate word of mouth, which is crucial towards creating an online presence in several social media a platform available. For instance, Amazon can attribute a significant percentage of its growth towards word of mouth generated by the positive buzz from the various users that engage with the company (Öztamur et al. 2014).
Possessing knowledge of the activities being carried out by competitive SMEs is an essential strategy that enables the growth of a company through diversity. According to the authors of social and behavioral sciences, the American fashion company peruses the agenda of the industry and do interviews with other SME performing in the same industry regardless of the competitor rivalry (Öztamur et al. 2014). The above allusion is a likely indicator that engaging in inter-company interaction enables a start-up business to learn the trick other competitor companies have and, in the process, innovate new ones. Additionally, it allows small firms to have a rough estimate of the volumetric as well as the available volume of clienteles in the market.
Impact of social media on SME’s
A notable effect of social media on SME’s is that it has become an avenue and forum for increased sales. Businesses have the sole purpose of improving profits through an increase in sales and a decrease in the cost of production. According to Basri, on a global level, empirical research on SME’s use of social media has confirmed that it is one of the important strategies to increase sales (Basri 2016). It is beyond doubts to allude that social media has increased the reach of business firms reaching their customers. Therefore, an increase in sales is bound to happen since companies have access to Individuals living in the most remote places, provided they have access to internet access.
Additionally, social media has given SME’s an innovative edge at a reduced cost and increased profitability. Traditional marketing avenues required business owners to pay a certain fee to gain access to global markets; however, that is not the case with social media. According to Basri, one of the most significant impacts of social media has been giving SME’s unprecedented level of access to a global market and reducing the operating cost while optimizing profitability simultaneously (Basri 2016). The ability of an SME to have direct access and a form of personal contact to almost every customer within a social media forum provides significantly important avenues for SME’s to grow the brand and attract customers.
Lastly, social media serves as a public relations frontline. According to the authors of social media marketing, SME’s seek to build and sustain a direct line with clients hence amplifying the public relations roles (Evans et al. 2010). In recent times, SME’s plays community-based involvement projects as well as public awareness initiatives, among others, in the social media handles to fit people of various characters and preferences. Therefore, social media serves as a tool through which SME’s can give back to the community with minimum effort.
In conclusion, the advent of technology has brought with it several new inventions. One such tool is social media, which has significantly revolutionized the business world. Social media marketing can be applied to SMEs to improve their day to day activities, as mentioned earlier. There are several strategies, some of which are; authenticity and engaging with competitors, among others. Social media has more positive impacts than negative ones when it comes to the adoption of SMEs. Therefore, individuals with SME’s ought to employ the use of the dominant social media tool to enhance their operations.
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