Social media is not just a marketing tactic. It’s a social phenomenon that is here to stay. It is the way consumers find new products and services as well as receive the input they need to make that final purchase decision. Whether it’s trying a new restaurant or seeing the latest summer movie, consumers have always relied on personal recommendations. Social media takes these recommendations to the next level. It makes what was once between two people, public. It puts word of mouth recommendations, both good and bad, out there for the whole world to see. While the voice of social media is personal, the reach is massive. And depending on what your customers are saying about you, can literally make or break your business.
To be successful in today’s world of smart phones and constant connection, even small businesses need a social media strategy. The right strategy can not only help catapult your business ahead of your competitors, but also prove critical in avoiding detrimental business decisions. Social media puts the power back into the consumer’s hands. And when consumers have that much voice, businesses need to listen, and act accordingly.
The Molly Katchpole story was a perfect example of how social media can magnify one customer’s complaint, and force even a billion-dollar world corporation to pay attention. This is exactly what happened when the 22-year old college-graduate posted a complaint about Bank of America regarding the new $5 per month fee for using her debit card. She turned to Change.com, a web site that allows people to use social media to post petitions and solicit signatures.
Mainstream media such as TV producers and newspaper writers turn to the social web to see what’s trending and hot on the public’s mind. They caught wind of Molly’s story and as a result, she was interviewed on TV talk shows. In the interviews, she came off as a smart, respectable young American, who people could identify with – especially those living pay-check to pay-check that were tired of extra fees big banks were imposing on them. She became the voice of what so many American’s were already feeling. In about a month, she received more than 300,000 signatures from Bank of America customers who publically announced they were leaving Bank of America in protest of the extra fee. In the end, Bank of America removed the extra $5 fee, a decision that costs the bank more than $3.4 billion in potential additional revenue.
So let’s bring this back to you, the small business owner. If you have not yet started using social media, the time is now…
For my most recent book The Social Media Advantage, my co-author Amanda Walter and I interviewed hundreds small businesses owners across the U.S. about their use of social media and how they plan to integrate it into their overall marketing and communication strategy. There were many similar responses:
“I don’t have time.”
“We don’t need it.”
“We just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”
“I don’t know where to start.”
Even today, with its wide-spread use, many small business owners are still claiming a lack of time, resources and understanding of social media tools, as well as intimidation by the vastness of the social media space as primary factors for not yet integrating a social media strategy into their communications efforts. That’s why we wrote The Social Media Advantage, for you, the small business owner.
The above text is an excerpt from the book The Social Media Advantage by Holly Berkley + Amanda Walter.
Holly Berkley is an author, educator, speaker and professional Internet Marketing Consultant focused on helping all size businesses increase online sales, strengthen their overall brand, and dramatically boost web site traffic through proven online marketing concepts. Berkley’s newest book is “The Social Media Advantage – An Essential Handbook for Small Business” Learn about her latest books and marketing services at www.BerkWeb.com