Are Small Businesses Doing Enough to Take Advantage of Social Media?

Small business owners are always trying to take advantage of any method they can find to increase their reach within their communities, and social media platforms give them an affordable, easy way to do so. However, many may not be doing all they can to tap these potentially rich veins of local interest, and those looking to expand may want to review their social media practices as a consequence.

New studies show that more than half of marketers have been able to find new leads through Facebook so far this year, and more than two in five have also done so through LinkedIn or blogs, according to a report from USA Today. This highlights just how valuable these platforms can be, and why it’s important for companies to invest in them now as a means of generating more interest through the channels going forward.

Unlike traditional advertising efforts, small business owners won’t have to pay a dime to put up ads and connect with consumers through these platforms, it remains incredibly important to have someone in charge of all social media accounts who is familiar with the best practices for utilizing them, the report said. While many small businesses may not have it in their budgets to hire a dedicated social media expert full-time, that is a position that could potentially pay for itself in relatively short order compared with a traditional advertising worker. In fact, it might even be possible to find an employee capable of both running social media accounts and doing something else as well, such as maintaining company websites or other duties that a worker might be called upon to perform overall.

A shrewd social media worker may also be able to help owners significantly reduce their advertising budgets overall, and that can be factored into the cost of hiring such an employee as well, the report said. In addition, it will be far easier to see how social media marketing efforts fare than those available through traditional means.

“You don’t have to pay to use Facebook or Instagram, but you do need a human resource,” social media expert and consultant Trang Hamm told the newspaper. “It’s a lot cheaper than spending $50,000 on a radio ad and not be able to see how people interact with it. You can gauge that on Facebook.”

How much reach can these efforts have?
Many owners may dismiss the power of social networking, but it has repeatedly proven a great way to connect with consumers, a large and growing percentage of which are using these sites every day, the report said. A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that about two-thirds of all adults who use the Web are on social network sites, and that number is likely to continue rising in the years to come. Therefore, smaller companies that don’t have the ability to reach the same number of people as their larger competitors through traditional means might be able to gain a bit of an edge if they can successfully wade into this realm instead.

Of course, expansion efforts of any kind, including bringing on new employees, can lead to companies facing significantly higher prices for small business insurance, and as such it’s important that owners are prepared for these eventualities. Looking into lower prices for workers’ compensation or general liability insurance policies either before or after these decisions are made may help companies making these moves to reduce their overall impacts and improve their bottom lines as they attempt to expand their reaches overall.