Social media has become an imperative business tool for small businesses. Starting up a small business usually means limitation to working capital.
As such, there would be none or very limited funds for a physical location, marketing and adverts, analytic tools and possibly an interactive website. All these can be coined by optimizing social media platforms.
They are websites and applications that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career, business etc. via virtual communities and networks.
Some social media web and apps include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, WhatsApp etc.
Every one of these social media web and apps are unique and applicable in their own ways to small businesses. There are billions of people on social media web and apps every day and small businesses can take advantage of this.
Facebook and Instagram are photo and video-sharing social media applications used for networking.
They easily provide the platform for small to large businesses to engage customers and potential customers with photos and videos of their products and services.
Facebook and Instagram currently have an approximately, combined 30million active users in Nigeria.
Let's establish that this is a free platform with the potential of 30million people to showcase your business to.
Twitter is an online news and social networking service on which users post and interact with short messages called tweets.
Twitter is great for sharing information and networking. LinkedIn is a social media app used to manage one's professional identity.
Small business owners can build and engage with their professional network, access knowledge, insights and opportunities. These are some of the most popular social media platforms small businesses can maximize.
Social media can be used to create awareness. Opening and operating social media platforms should be the first step for a small business in trying to create awareness.
Our first set of customers at Smoothie Express were directly from social media platforms.
Social media accounts should have general and up-to-date information about a business and businesses should create engagement with other active users.
They can easily be used for marketing. There are millions of people on social media and you can reach almost anyone. With the use of some marketing skills, small businesses can engage new customers which will translate to business growth. With social media, small businesses do not need marketing professionals to gain new customers.
There are direct adverts, 'sponsored posts,' these social media platforms create that are affordable for small businesses.
With a minimal $10 budget, your advert could typically reach hundreds of people. Also, social media users typically share posts on products/services and generally, things they love to friends and followers on these social media platforms. This could create more visibility for a business.
In a small business, funds may be limited to create websites to display products and services or even having a physical location.
Lots of businesses have benefitted from using social media as a marketplace, showcasing products or services directly to potential customers and easily having conversations and negotiations with these potential customers using only social media tools.
Some social media apps like Facebook and Instagram are upgrading speedily to include direct sales and payment features on their apps.
This will enable users purchase products that have been showcased by businesses directly from social media and make payments on there.
Basically, incorporating the idea of ecommerce websites with social media. This is genius! Selling for small businesses has been made easy by social media.
Social media can also be used as an analytic tool. Social media websites and applications have developed continuously over the last couple of years.
There are simple to complex analytic tools on social media that small businesses can use.
For example, Instagram can tell you the gender ratio of your page visitors and also where they are located. Analysis such as these can be used in making decisions regarding your expansion plans.
Larger companies spend millions yearly on market analysis but some social media apps have been able to provide some of this market analysis for free. Small business should take advantage of such features on social media apps.
Social media can be used to get quick surveys. Twitter for instance, can be used to get quick response surveys using the twitter polls tool.
Over the years, Social media has been one of the best platforms for interaction and networking with direct access to almost anyone. With frequent participation and collaborations amongst users, social media can help foster meaningful collaborations amongst small businesses.
Ensure your business social media page is tidy with all relevant information to the business on display.
Use straightforward usernames for your business page and make your posts relevant to your business vision and purpose. Be strategic in your communications so you can attract your business needs.
The rise of social media has been a blessing and can be maximized by small business owners at little or no added cost to the business. It takes only some time and effort to build your business on social media.