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Six months ago, I highlighted many benefits of social media for small business, but several new research articles add urgency to this message.
The following 26 stats should impress upon you the importance of developing a social media strategy for your business.
Social media users are more active offline and have greater influence than their peers (Nielsen).
Notice that Twitter users are nearly as likely to login once per week as they are three to four times per week. After visiting a social network, 45% of users will visit another social site, a multimedia site like YouTube or use a search engine. Because many customers show a tendency to stay on social media sites, find ways to keep them engaged. So what are business leaders doing in light of the obvious shift toward social media in online behavior?
Zoomerang interviewed 1,180 small- to mid-sized business (SMB) decision-makers and 500 consumers in September to release this study in an attempt to answer that question. 81% of small business leaders use social media to get in front of customers and find new customers. This graphic highlights how important it is to integrate social media with your website, email and direct mail efforts. Be sure to integrate your social media efforts with your website and mail efforts (online and offline).
Don’t use the excuses of having a limited budget or a small fan base to prevent you from broadening and deepening your social efforts. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising.
Nearly Half of Small Businesses Use Social Media Marketing: Check out the results of this Zoomerang survey. Bloggers who switch will automatically get access to the Google+ integrations rolling out in the future. Zooshia: The first social widget which enables websites and blog owners to mix feeds from across the social web from multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). With Zooshia, you can group your social feeds together and embed them onto your blog or website. Vidcaster: This tool allows you to create your own branded video-based websites—so instead of publishing your video on YouTube, for example, you can publish it on your very own branded video site. As an alternative or addition to selling products or digital goods on your website, you’re now able to sell in Facebook groups. If you don’t yet see this option in your Facebook group, take the opportunity to learn how selling works.
If your business sells a video training course, give customers who purchase it access to a private Facebook group as part of the package.
Those who run a regular Twitter or online chat, or even have a running discussion on their Facebook page, may want to separate it from their business.
MediaChat uses their public group to share more information about chat guests, offer member deals and give shout-outs.
Remember to let participants know about your Facebook group and page (if applicable) during your chat. One of the easiest ways to use Facebook groups for business is to become a resource in your field. For example, members of the Internet Marketing Super Friends group, numbering more than 13,000, pride themselves on helping other Internet marketers.

Create a secret Facebook group, invite some of your best customers and openly discuss new ideas you’re thinking about implementing in your business. This type of group provides a way to build stronger relationships with customers, while helping business owners collect honest feedback on what their customers might like. The reason to start a secret group, instead of a closed or public one, is because secret groups can’t be located in search or accessed via URL.
If you want to make your customer service Facebook group easy to find, create a closed group.
If you’re putting on a live or online conference for your business, and you want to communicate with the speakers you have lined up, consider creating a Facebook group. Convey insider details about the event and answer additional questions new speakers might have.
This also lets you give your speakers the opportunity to network and get to know each other and build rapport prior to the event. If you have a lot of ideas and want someone to help vet them, create a Facebook mastermind group. Once you create this group, use it as an online meeting place to discuss ideas and get help from a few of your well-respected peers. For those whose business communicates primarily on Facebook, create a Facebook group to bring your employees together.
If you do plan to use Facebook groups internally, be sure to have a social media policy ready and have your employees agree to it first. Whether you have your own group or participate in them, it’s valuable to know how Facebook groups can help your business so utilize them to their full potential.
But the good news is that your customers are embracing social media as a normal part of their lives. The jury is still out on Google+, as data hasn't been accumulated to show the effect of the public release. Clearly, small businesses are increasingly leaning on social media to grow their businesses. To help you stay up-to-date with social media, here are some of the news items that caught our attention. She spent 25 years abroad in international business development and then built her own international business using social business networking. Get our latest articles delivered to your email inbox and get the FREE Social Media Marketing Industry Report (53 pages, 80+ charts)! They can ask questions and get supplementary material, as well as forge a bond with other customers.
While this could be through a contact form on your website or through your Facebook page, a secret Facebook group is another option.
Plus, use the group to share any templates and files with your speakers to reduce the number of requests you receive. This will help you avoid wasting too much time or money on an idea that just won’t work. Remember to use some of the built-in features, such as file sharing and group search, to quickly recall meeting notes. Then invite your employees, virtual assistants or interns to join, and use it as a means to communicate with your team. This way, the private discussions among your employees don’t end up on public social media channels. So even if you create a Facebook group, you’ll still want a Facebook page for your business.

When fans engage with your content, it increases your visibility to others in their network.
They serve to strengthen communication, connections and visibility, as well as help you grow your business. While social media can be a great outlet for branding and reaching out to your target audience, it can also have the opposite effects of what you wish.
Plus, it gives your business the opportunity to forge deeper connections with their customers and promote other courses and services. The group can be a channel for introducing new teammates, sharing company updates and more. So how, as a business owner, can you strike out the balance that will help you reach your goals?
The opportunities to connect directly with your customers are unprecedented, but so is the competition. Why social media could make your vulnerableMaintaining an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and the like is a good way to expose your business and keep your fans up-to-date.
But you’re also putting yourself in a vulnerable position by using these tools, and with great power comes great responsibility.It’s very important to make sure whoever is in charge of your social media profile is qualified and level-headed. It’s easy to get dragged down a slippery slope of pointless arguments and tireless rants behind the mask of a computer screen. Just look at all the celebrities in 2012 alone who were forced to close their twitter accounts over scandalous posts. Don’t let this happen to your brand.Is it possible to over use social media?Overuse is also very possible. Some companies will find that they are so wrapped up in the number of followers their profile has and how much interaction they are receiving from their target audience that they post to excess. After you’ve done that, steer your posts so that they reflect those interests but also relate to your business or industry. For example, if you run a shoe store, you probably shouldn’t share recipes in order to gain followers. In order to get an idea as to how much is enough, and what to share, check out the social media of competitors and others in your industry.
The larger the business the better as it is usually guaranteed that their social media activity is controlled by a professional.For those of you who are still feeling like you don’t really understand, or if you just don’t have time, you need not write off social media just yet.
Digital advertising agencies are in the business of helping companies devise effective social media campaigns. An online marketing agency will help you create a social media marketing strategy and then will take care of the posting and sourcing of content.
By leaving this task to professionals you will also be freeing yourself up to deal with other areas of the business that may need your attention.Social media is a helpful—and usually a cost effective—means of marketing your business. Just remember what they say: everything in moderation!This post was written by Kate Simmons, a blogger on digital media topics mostly related to social platforms, mobile marketing and responsive web design. She is currently writing on behalf of an online marketing agency providing digital marketing solutions for businesses. He writes articles regarding Mobiles, Tech, Gadgets, Games, Web Applications, Social Media and much more.

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