With new social media’s seeming to appear almost monthly, and current platforms regularly introducing new (and often confusing) updates, it’s no wonder businesses can find using these platforms a little daunting. I can barely keep up, and I would like to think I am fairly “with it” in regards to social media. I stumbled upon this meme a while back, and I think it’s great, almost as great as donuts.
It’s certainly not as simple as that, but I think it’s a fairly succinct and accurate way of summarising the different platforms and their main functions. As the world of social media continues to grow, businesses are discovering the potential these platforms provide for reaching their customers. However, knowing what platforms to use and how to use them can be challenging. Each social media has it’s own scope and primary functionality; businesses must customise their communications and interactions on each accordingly. Using Twitter to write an in-depth piece on your latest product is hardly appropriate with a mere 140 characters.
Social media provides companies, both big and small, with a cheap and efficient way of reaching the masses. Despite this, many businesses, particularly SME’s (small and medium enterprises) and non-profits shy away from using these channels.
I think Bakeman and Hanson (2012) explain it well…
“Social media entails entering a realm of marketing and promotion that may overwhelm with its unfamiliarity and sense of uncertainty about how to reach new buyers while competing with larger companies that have vastly more resources”
Small businesses, non-profits and social media
It is generally appropriate to assume that most small businesses and non-profit have access to few resources than larger organisations. This can often mean smaller budgets allocated to marketing and promoting their business and services. The beauty of social media is its affordability. These platforms provide businesses with an inexpensive way of building relationships with their customers and promoting their businesses.
Despite its low cost nature, social media will still require businesses to invest time and resources in learning and ultimately spending on social media. As many small business owners often do a large amount of the work themselves, the learning process itself is often what puts owners of using social media, preferring traditional forms such as local newspapers, word-of-mouth and websites.
Social media can help small businesses and non-profits build and/or extend their public profile and brand identity. These platforms enable businesses to build relationships with customers, better understand their audience and then use these learning’s to target future prospects.
So, what’s the downside?
As I said in an earlier post, with reward comes risk. For all businesses – big, small, private, or non-profit – there is an inherent risk in using social media. Use of social media should at all times be secure and supervised, to avoid the following risks (Thornton, 2013):
- Disclosure of confidential and/or proprietary information
- Damage to brand reputation
- Legal, regulatory and compliance violations
- Corporate identity theft
B2B vs. B2C
The situation, participants and communication goals of an interaction will influence how social media is used. Here are some quick definitions to help decipher the difference between B2B and B2C:
- Business-to-business (B2B) = a situation where one business makes a commercial transaction with another.
- Business-to-consumer (B2C) = a situation involving a transaction between a business and consumer, e.g. the selling of a product of a company website.
3 key differences between B2B and B2C social media marketing (Green, n.d.):
- Content: B2C marketing can have a more casual nature, focusing heavily on interesting content and shareability. B2C marketers can utilize visuals, entertaining videos and viral content, whereas B2B content must be of a more professional nature. B2B content must be more information dense, relevant and formal.
- Channels: the most commonly used, and effective B2C channels are: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube. All of which lend them to the more casual and shareable content appropriate to B2C marketing. B2B marketing contrast uses LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for communication. With content impacting how these platforms are used.
- Goals and metrics: the main objective and focus of B2C social media marketing is to build community engagement and awareness. Whereas, B2B marketing focuses more so on lead generation.
Anyone out there a small business owner, using, or thinking about using social media? I personally follow a number of small businesses and love staying up to date on what they are up to and the interesting content they post. My father (he’s a business advisor) and I regularly discuss the need of small businesses for assistance mastering social media, and funnily enough a friend of my started www.startsocial.nz/ which assists SME’s build a social media presence.
Bakeman, M. M., & Hanson, L. (2012). Bringing Social Media to Small Business: A Role for Employees and Students in Technology Diffusion. Business Education Innovation Journal, 4(2), 106-111. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.massey.ac.nz/ehost/detail/detail?sid=7e389cb2-5981-44f7-9568-4bfd9716b002%40sessionmgr4005&vid=0&hid=4214&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWlwLGNvb2tpZSx1cmwsdWlkJnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=bth&AN=84602060
Bosua, R. r., Evans, N. n., & Sawyer, J. j. (2013). SOCIAL NETWORKS, SOCIAL MEDIA AND ABSORPTIVE CAPACITY IN REGIONAL SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMES) IN AUSTRALIA. Australian & International Journal Of Rural Education, 23(1), 117-134. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.massey.ac.nz/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=5e3e46bd-7f42-4b89-9f6b-d055413b00df%40sessionmgr4001&vid=1&hid=4214
Green, B. (n.d.). 3 Differences Between B2C and B2B Social Media Marketing. Retrieved from http://www.oktopost.com/blog/differences-b2c-and-b2b-social-media-marketing/
Thornton, G. (2013). Social media risks and rewards. Retrieved from Grant Thornton website: http://www.grantthornton.com/~/media/content-page-files/advisory/pdfs/2013/ADV-social-media-survey.ashx