The economic challenges of 2009 had more small businesses looking for less-expensive marketing tactics, especially social media channels. In fact, social media usage among small businesses doubled from 12% in 2008 to 24% in 2009 , according to "The State of Small Business Report" from Network Solutions Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.
The method of choice for 75% of the small businesses surveyed was a company page on Facebook or LinkedIn, followed closely by posting status updates and articles of interests to sites like Facebook or LinkedIn (69%). Additionally, 57% use social network sites to build their networks, and 54% use them to monitor feedback about their organizations.
Those large numbers make sense, as an ever-increasing number of people use such social network sites. Facebook says it has more than 400 million active users, with 50% of active users logging on every day; LinkedIn has more than 50 million members worldwide; and Twitter has about 75 million members. You want to go where the people are, and people are on social networks.
Where small businesses are missing out, however, is in creating their own content and sharing their expertise. Only 39% publish a blog about their area of expertise, and only 26% tweet about their area of expertise. When you produce quality content about your area of expertise (blog articles, tweets, etc.) you not only improve your chances of appearing in search engine results, but you also build your brand and your heighten your level of trust. You become an expert in your industry and a name people know and believe in when it comes time to buy.
Yes, it takes time to use social media effectively, but the benefits are worth it. Look at international law firm Harris and Moure, which used its blog to bring in "seven figures worth of work," and software solutions company Lumension, which created an ebook to differentiate itself from competitors and saw the book get downloaded more than 7,000 times.
So, how are you using social media to market your firm?
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