Big businesses think big. From offices in multiple continents to multi-billion dollar advertising budgets, it’s about being visible in a prominent way. Does the same logic apply to small businesses? Are smaller organizations forced to aim lower due to less square footage or smaller bank accounts? Small business success hinges on smart thinking, regardless of size. Getting the most mileage from your investments starts with social media.
Websites, Social Media, and QuickBooks: How Small Businesses Roll
According to the Social Media Today website, “91% of local searchers say they use Facebook to find local businesses online.” This means consumers are looking for their brands online, including the local Mom & Pop shop up the road. Customers expect a dynamic online presence even from the smallest companies; it’s today’s newest measure of credibility.
Before jumping into the social media world, realize that being there is only a tiny part of the equation. According to Manta, nearly 50% of 1,235 surveyed small business owners (SBOs) have increased their time spent on social media in the last year. Similarly, 55% of SBOs report using Facebook and Twitter as primary tools for sales leads and customer acquisition. However, 60% of SBOs claim they haven’t seen any return on investment for this involvement. If this is true, what is the point of social media?
Manta’s survey shows that more than half of small business owners are spending less than three hours each week online. Ted Rubin, Chief Social Marketing Officer of Collective Bias, says this isn’t enough. “Return on relationship takes time. People are being sold on social as a place to generate leads, but it’s really a place to build loyalty, answer customer service questions and to build a community,” he advises. In addition to patience, small business owners should also consider putting these strategies into practice:
- Invest time into social media. Logging hours on social media isn’t about frequent status updates or Tweets. It’s about keeping your ears open, according to Rubin. He recommends that businesses need to “listen for people who are complaining about their current service providers. Those are leads worth pursuing.” This process requires a full-time staffer, even someone as low-level as a savvy teenager that wants to learn the ropes and can put in the time.
- Leverage social media in a more powerful way. Steve Strauss, author of the Small Business Bible, believes small business owners can take advantage of social media communities. More specifically, LinkedIn is home to like-minded business owners with common interests. This professional neighborhood is an ideal meeting ground for collaboration and collective problem solving. It’s also a powerful tool for sourcing potential leads.
- Set realistic and tangible social media goals. Obtain more Facebook fans. Get more Twitter followers. Acquire more subscribers for the online newsletter. Do these “goals” sound familiar? They are too broad to be useful, and it’s almost impossible to gauge success under such vague terms. Put tangible numbers and specific benchmarks in place to set an achievable (and measurable) bar.
Other Ways to Stay Competitive in the New Millennia
Beyond social media, small business owners need to make business software investments that save time and money. Accounting programs like QuickBooks are essential for recording expenses, discovering trends, budgeting, and projecting future growth in an effective way. QuickBooks checks should be part of this investment. These checks make vendor payments seamless and give small business owners the ability to track transactions as they happen and have accurate financial records that are up-to-date. Leading providers like Checksforless.com provide customizable QuickBooks checks for business in a comprehensive selection of styles and quantities. These QuickBooks business checks minimize inefficiencies, improve accuracy, and maximize profit potential.
With the money saved using a smarter financial infrastructure, invest more into the company website. If a potential customer arrives to the website, it only warrants a very small celebration. It becomes a win if your website fulfills the purpose of their visit, whether it’s locating specific information about the product, completing a sale, making an online reservation, or obtaining contact information for further needs. Content is king on the website, and should be displayed in the most concise and user-friendly way.
All websites and social media strategies should be built for the target audience, not for you. Step away from the bells and whistles that impress your competitive colleagues, and step into the consumer’s shoes. This simple blueprint shift will add value to your small business and convert potential customers into paying ones.