Monday, March 16, 2015

Why Your Small Business Should Be on Social Networks

Small business owner using social networks to his advantage.
The proliferation of using social networking has taken the business world by storm. The versatility, convenience, and not to mention the cost-effectiveness of each social networking platform has become so important that no business, either big or small, would dare ignore.

Social networking has given small businesses yet another means to promote and market their business for a relatively little amount of time and effort.

For small businesses that are not plugged in yet to social media platforms and are wondering what the fuss is all about, or pondering if they really need to use it, the answer is a definite yes. Every small business needs to engage in social networking platforms if, at the very least, they want to reach potential customers and stay competitive.

Consider the following reasons below why small businesses should look into social networking platforms:

Connecting with Customers. Social media has been becoming more important where a user may spend nearly a quarter of their time each day on social networks and reading blogs. This means that target audiences, either locally or globally, are already using social media.

Connecting a business with numerous social sites gives them the ability to connect with their customers. Through interconnection, businesses have a better understanding of what their clients want, and what concerns and issues they have that need to be fixed with the product or services. Positive engagement with customers not only gives businesses the opportunity to make informed changes faster than ever, but offers a way to improve reputation and branding, and acquire free exposure.

Build Engagement and Business Density. Social networks help build a community of friends and followers who are more than just a business entity. Posting updates about the business and anything that could initiate participation from customers offers a relevance of creating branding and density. The more people that like the business page as well as their posts will create a sense of trust, which potential customers may see as a great opportunity to try what the business has to offer. In fact, studies show that the traditional word-of-mouth strategy still applies online. The more people celebrate a business, the more people will be enticed to join the bandwagon.

Social Network is a Means to Spy on Competition. Since everyone is already using these social networks, a business' competitor is probably there as well. What better way to improve a business than to know what the competition has to offer. The risk of falling behind the latest trend and the latest products and services of competitors is probably the greatest thing that every small business has to avoid. Having leverage over competitors making the business a step far ahead when it comes to uniqueness and creativity will definitely make every small business grow.

Social Networks Provides Better Affiliation. As a small business grows, they will not miss any opportunity of asking for help or communicating with other business owners that can help them improve their business, and social networking sites are niches one can deal with. This gives small businesses the chance to discuss current issues within their market, or anything that they can collaborate on to promote and acquire affiliates with similar businesses. This can lead to a bigger partnership where both parties can share leads, share leadership and marketing strategies, as well as working together on issues that need to be fixed.

Social Networking Calls for Creativity. Having a social networking account or business page is a big social responsibility. If one business needs to promote, they cannot simply just say, "Buy, buy, and buy" every day in order to entice customers. This is not how netizens act towards advertisements these days. They long for uniqueness and creativity. They want something that not only asks them to buy, but a whole package showing credibility, branding, and what it is about the product or service that provides them any benefit. So, the more distinct an ad or promotion gets to be, the more people will like it, which, therefore, creates more traffic that will bounce back to a positive result for the business.

Social Network Provides Versatility. Every social networking site has a different platform to offer. For instance, Facebook allows businesses to purchase targeted ads intended for specific demographics, whereas Twitter gives more leverage for small businesses to create more personalized branding through the ingenuity of their accounts.

Likewise, other social networking sites like Pinterest encourage business owners to be more visual with their advertisements. By using photo and info-images, they get to cross the line between the common practice of posting updates in Twitter and Facebook.

Another social networking site that small business may try is StumbleUpon, which is a collaboration of micro-blogging and partly a social networking account. It encourages business owners to break away from several-thousand-word articles that usually bore consumers, and instead use other mediums like pictures, music, quotes, chat, links, and other means.

Using a social network is not just a short-term fix, but a long-term strategy for small businesses to actively listen and engage with existing and prospective customers. Social networks build awareness, marketing and sales promotion, and build loyalty.

For a business to be successful, it must first clearly define strategies that would incorporate their goals and objectives, along with their concept and ideas on how fast and up to what extent they want to achieve success.

Using the advantage of each social networking feature, such as search results with Facebook, Google+, or Twitter, as well as using keywords and phrases to create a stronger demographic audience, especially with their local audience, that will be the foreground basis of expansion and growth of their business.

Using blogs, micro-blogs, interesting photos and videos, updates and posts, a small business can easily drive traffic back to the business site. These have all been proven strategies that lead existing and potential customers to easily share and promote; and all these have become secret weapons of many small businesses.

Craig Corbel is the VP of Marketing at Solution Web Designs, a web design firm in NYC also specializing in online marketing for small to mid-sized businesses.

Why Your Small Business Needs a Mobile Website

The optimization of a business website to a mobile website and a tablet.
We all have witnessed a phenomenon where people have come to a point in their lives that they are spending more time with their mobile phones than their laptops or PCs. In fact, many offices have now adopted a free-form way of working where people are no longer holed up in their cramped offices with window panes overlooking the city.

Everything can now be accessed through a mobile phone; from banking online, shopping, social networking, doing mobile research, mobile TV, right on down to doing business transactions.

Because customers are looking for a more convenient way to do their business through an easier platform, this becomes a perfect opportunity for small businesses to expand their presence with a mobile website.

Other reasons why small businesses should go mobile include:

Competitors are already doing it. It has always been a dog-eat-dog endeavor in the business world; and much like animals, small businesses should learn to adapt in order to survive. Sweeping through mobile technology changes is a necessity no one should ignore. Perhaps even a local competitor across the street from one's business is already using a mobile website to gain more potential customers, and missing out on this may cause a business to be left behind.

Customers expect it. Customers have also adapted to this change for a new lifestyle and a need to go mobile, and what better way to cement customers' perception that a business cares than giving them what they want and need.

Engage customer support and service. Since everything is now available at the touch of a finger, customers prefer a different level of engagement with the businesses they trust, something real-time and convenient. If an issue arises, they want to feel that their concerns are important, and when their issues are resolved, they will feel valued and will be more likely to keep coming back for the business' products and services.

Having a mobile website also makes it easier to reach out to customers for promotions and discounts, which could keep them loyal and encourage them to make additional purchases.

The opportunities are endless. Another way to get the business on the front-line of mobile apps is through social media integration, fan walls, push notifications, and user incentives. Through these applications, customers are guarded down towards upcoming promotions and advertisements, and are more likely to be engaging.

Mobile websites can also encourage customers to participate in surveys as well as customer reviews and forums, which could benefit both parties. Here, customers can extend their concerns about the business, and businesses can get valuable feedback to make their business better. Hearing from the customers creates the illusion that the business is willing to give its 100% commitment to provide quality services.

Maximize business presence. With mobile websites, customers will have access to the business for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and from just about anywhere in the world. Through this, buying decisions of customers become easier. The same holds true when they have concerns that need an immediate response.

Sales can be heightened. Customers' interest in the business' product or services is the aspiration of any marketing strategy, but any unfulfilled curiosity may decrease potential revenue. When customers are able to reach and gain access to a business through a mobile website, this may lead to a participated sales conversion. In fact, studies show that about 20% of sales from business revenue are actually generated through mobile purchases. Combined with these statistics and the need of customers to have everything on their mobile phone, this makes it a no-brainer explanation as to why businesses should engage in mobile websites.

Build a partnership with similar business ventures. If a business wants to grow, they will more than likely need help from other supporting businesses, and this is where mobile websites come in handy. Sponsor applications can help small businesses branch out during their start-up phase. By allowing hopping into their established mobile application, small businesses will have higher chances of going independent as their new mobile website gets online. It would also help small businesses acquire more potential customers through the existing customers that sponsor applications have.

The only drawback of mobile websites that small businesses should have to consider is the cost it would take. There are many companies who are willing to integrate current business pages and websites to a mobile website application, but the cost of it can be a bit pricey. Depending on how much a small business is willing to shell out, the prices charged would vary by the type of business the clients have, their requirements, and the value they want to attain for their customers.

Prices can start from around $300 and may go up to as much as $1,500 to $2,000, depending on how intricate the mobile design would be. Why? One reason for this is that websites on low budget usually have designs that view pretty badly on mobile devices. Another problem is that it may take a fairly long time for the website to load. Also, the fonts on the pages become pretty small when scaled down to that size, and customers might end up going through too much effort trying to zoom and pinch in pages in order to navigate the site. And if the mobile website does not have Flash, it becomes relatively boring and plain.

Studies show that customers who had bad experiences on mobile websites usually turn to a competitor for their business and may even think twice whether or not they would ever come back again to the original company. On this note, there are still small businesses that have not come around and optimized or improved their mobile websites. For this reason, right from the start small businesses should begin thinking about how much commitment are they willing to give, knowing that the budget for a mobile website requires a little bit more.

More and more are adapting new technologies for marketing, and going mobile remains a profound means that could benefit any small business on a long-term basis. With higher customer expectations and a crowded marketplace, small businesses will be more equipped, more accessible for all customer entities, more comprehensive, and will have more leverage among competitors when they go mobile.

Craig Corbel is the Vice President of Marketing for Solution Web Designs, a top NYC web design firm that specializes in web design and online marketing for small and mid-sized business.