Social media marketing is good for…
- Improving a company's reputation
- Spreading the word about its products and services
- Customer service
But, is it useful as a tool for sales prospecting and lead generation? According to a new survey, most small businessowners don't think so.
A survey of 500 small businesses with less than 100 employees commissioned by Citibank and released just last week revealed that 75 percent of those surveyed don't use social media. Here's why…
"Our survey suggests that small business owners are still feeling their way into social media, particularly when it comes to using these tools to grow their businesses," said Maria Veltre, Executive Vice President of Citi's Small Business Segment. "While social media can provide additional channels to network and help grow a business, many small businesses may not have the manpower or the time required take advantage of them."
Small business owners don't have time to invest in marketing strategies that do not have a positive effect on the bottom line, especially during this tough economy.
Take my own company, Bizzuka, for example. We've done a reasonably good job of incorporating social media into the marketing mix, but have we seen it increase leads and/or sales? To some extent, yes, but not to the degree that I'd like.
Case in point, a few months ago we rolled out a video series produced completely in-house, that talks about nine ways to use online media as a cost-effective marketing tool during the recession. It was widely received and the content avidly consumed. Even Dell picked it up and ran the entire nine-part series on their Dell Small Business blog.
The result? Thousands of pageviews and video views. A brand-builder? Yes. Improved our reputation? Sure. Good for SEO? Yep. How about positive PR? Absolutely. Sales? Uh, not sure. Maybe not so much.
Part of that is my own fault for not building into the campaign a way to measure leads generated from it. That was a severe oversight and patently inexcusable.
Not only that, but we've been doing an Internet radio show on Blog Talk Radio for over a year called User Friendly Thinking. We've interviewed some of the Internet's top movers-and-shakers, everyone from Shel Holtz to David Meerman Scott to Robert Scoble, Ann Handley, John Jantsch, Toby Bloomberg, and the list goes on and on.
As with the video series, for brand awareness and reputation building, it's been great. We've made lots of friends and the show gets high marks from colleagues. Has one lead or sale been generated from it? I can't say that it has.
Still, I have numerous case studies and examples that prove social media does work, and I'm going to get more. I'm also redoubling my efforts to prove its worth for Bizzuka.
We're a small, regional B2B company that sells web design, web content management and Internet marketing services. There are lots of companies just like us in just about every town across this country. Still, I believe social media can be used to set us apart from the competition and bring in leads.
Small businesses, especially during these times, have to tighten their belts and their focus to achieve maximum results with minimal expenditure. The beautiful thing about social media is that it doesn't cost much, if anything, to deploy. So, if we fail, we can fail quickly and cost-effectively. I'm convinced we can succeed equally as well.
What about you? What's your social media marketing success story? Share it in a comment. (I'm especially interested to learn how front-line sales people are using social media to prospect and generate leads.)