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Maria Ioia Maria Ioia
18 August 2012 Posted by 

Social media a conversation starter

By Maria Ioia

WHILE most SMEs have access to the internet, two-thirds of Australian SMEs also have a business website.

However according to the latest Sensis e-business report, only 18% use social media to market and engage customers and prospects with their business and herein lies the opportunity for SMEs.

Half of those who have used social media with their business have reported a positive impact. The majority maintain it in-house and a quarter monitor or update their social media on a daily basis.

For businesses selling to consumers, Facebook is the dominant avenue and for businesses selling to other businesses, LinkedIn is key. So why aren’t more businesses using social media?

Having a presence on social media is like conducting a huge focus group yourself or speaking with every single one of your customers on an ongoing basis.

Except rather than spending copious amounts of time interacting with them one-on-one or in a group of eight to 10, you get to see it live an interact and engage with them with relevant information that can help them.

It is just one big conversation. Imagine if you were right there in the conversation when a prospect describes a need that you can help them with? Or if your online ad was right at the point where people were researching the product you sell?

The banks do it when you are searching for your next home. Have you noticed the home loan advertising which surrounds home searches?

But how do you identify these needs? They are usually in the form of frequently asked questions via your website or independent discussion forum, query on your social media page or via a direct response to a blog you have written.

Yet there are so many disparate discussions going on, how are you expected to be everywhere to monitor them or with an online advert?

This is where social media dashboards such as TweetDeck and XeeMe can be very useful. By using key word search terms, your dashboard can constantly refresh and do the searching for you.

They can also tell you which of your followers are key influencers and it is all in one place! All you need to do is respond to the questions you know the answer to.

This could lead to prospects and onlookers in the discussion referring to your website or blogs and generate leads.

Once someone lands on any page of your website, you could set up an inexpensive pop-up box (via your website developer or via programs like Survey Monkey) to capture key contact details.

This is a great way to build your database and follow-up with a new prospect with an e-newsletter or phone call.

Given that two-thirds of Australians currently make purchases online, setting up an online merchant account via PayPal or through your local bank, means that you can capture that sale right there and then, and get the money up front, which can only be good for your cash flow.

Deals Direct use social media really well. Via FaceBook one summer, they noticed all the comments coming through generally about how hot the day was.

Right then and there, they offered a large discount on an inflatable wading pool. Sales spiked that day as a direct response to the FaceBook offer. It worked well as it addressed the needs of the audience on that particular day in those circumstances.

Now with so many so-called social media experts and it can be overwhelming at first to know where to start.

The social media commentator, Linda Coles’, book: “Learn marketing with Social Media in 7 days” is a great resource for getting started.

About the author: Maria Ioia is principal at the Market Intelligence Agency. Visit www.marketintelligenceagency.com.au.



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