Chester County SCOREâ€™s Women Driving Business Forum brought together local marketing experts and small business leaders to discuss social media and how to use it effectively to boost their bottom line. SCORE supports small businesses and startups with mentoring services to foster effective planning, resource use and goal setting. This Womenâ€™s Forum topic was very well timed as many businesses are reflecting on which marketing strategies worked for their business in 2015, and they are setting goals for 2016. For many small businesses, social media marketing plays a big role in their overall marketing strategy. It certainly does for HeadRoom. At HeadRoom, weÂ often encounterÂ small businessesÂ using socialÂ media without the benefit ofÂ a clear overallÂ strategy, setÂ goals or a means to measure success.
Social Media Influence
Social media participants continue to grow at an exponential rate. Today, Facebook has 1.35 Billion subscribers, Twitter over 1 Billion unique accounts, YouTube boasts 1 Billion registered accounts and Instagram has 300 Million users. These represent some of the most popular social media platforms in the United States. The others include Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Google+. Historically, social media was a platform where you could organically grow a community of interested, like-minded followers. Within that community, you can communicate your brand messages and product promotions. Occasionally a promotion will â€œgo viralâ€ and may even get attention from mainstream media (the Holy Grail).
Every social media marketer hopes for that Holy Grail campaign. I caution however, that if your campaign is not rooted in a business strategy that supports your goals, you may not be prepared for the response. If your campaign goes viral and you acquire more followers and sales than you are prepared to handle, especially if these new followers are not from your target audience, this could cause unexpected damage to your business and your brand. For this reason, it is important that your businessâ€™ marketing message and tactical plan is built upon your business strategy and that it is measured against specific goals.
Embrace TheÂ Shift
The other market influence that social media has caused is a shift from Business-to-Business or Business-to-Consumer marketing to a Person-to-Person marketing platform. Business influencers and decision makers are doing extensive product and service research online and that is extending to research on business owners. They not only want to understand the business, but they also want to know the person with whom they are going to do that business. Have you ever gone to a business networking event and come home to find multiple â€˜friendâ€™ or â€˜connectionâ€™ requests? The line between you and your company has become blurred. Some business owners embrace this shift and others are fighting it. Whichever your stance, it has become the price of doing business and must be acknowledged and addressed in your business strategy.
Supporting Women in Business
The Womenâ€™s Forum today was a wonderful opportunity to share HeadRoomâ€™s experience and to hear stories from other successful businesses. I hope that the 100+ business women in the audience found inspiration and action items to take back to their business. I look forward to watching how social media communities continue to develop and offer opportunities to connect on a more intimate and personal basis. For more information about the forum, HeadRoomâ€™s community or our experience with social media, please emailÂ me at erinl@HeadRoom.net.