How Will Small Businesses Use Social Media to Succeed Next Year?

Small businesses are currently still only beginning to really get into widespread social media use and efforts to promote and grow their companies through those channels, but the fact of the matter is that this world is ever-changing. Therefore, companies will need to be ready to adapt to any necessary alterations to their plans as they continue to use these options more heavily in the coming year.

A recent poll of small business and social media experts found that some 40 percent believe these independent companies will use social media platforms – including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram – to showcase their products or services through what is known as content marketing, according to a report from Business 2 Community. That far outstripped all other answers, with the next closest being short videos (like one might see on Vine) as a means of reaching out to both current and potential customers or clients. The other four responses, which received 10 percent of the votes each, respectively, included that social media would be used as part of the visual Internet, to measure success for social selling, and for social ads.

However, companies might not be able to succeed by putting all their eggs in just one of the above baskets, and therefore relying upon an appealing mix of engaging content and actual marketing may help to draw in more consumers, the report said. This may be particularly vital because recent data suggests that consumers are now being drawn more often to social efforts about which they may already be passionate, or for which their enthusiasm could be ignited. That may put the onus on companies to find out what about their offerings most appeal to their customers or clients on a demographic basis, so that they can then use that information to more effective reach people from a similar background when needed.

Some other emerging trends
Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in the way people have used technology in general over the last few years should come as no surprise to any savvy business owner, the report said. People use their mobile devices more than ever, and in particular, because they likely use them specifically for social media in many cases, the more social efforts that are tailored to work specifically on smartphones and tablets may be vital to really capturing a prospective patrons attentions.

Further, many companies are already starting to get all of their employees to use their own social media accounts, such as personal Facebook or Twitter pages, to market their products, the report said. This may help companies to come across as more desirable, because it creates the appearance – or reflects the reality – that workers are enthusiastic about their companies' offerings, and therefore might be more effective in helping to reach a broader audience.

However, it's also important for companies to keep in mind that they can overdo it on these sites, the report said. Any that flood their Facebook or Twitter feeds with more than a few updates a day may find that they're turning off prospective customers. While this is also the case now, some experts believe that consumers' tolerance for this kind of thing will continue to diminish over the course of 2014.

Companies devoting more attentions to social media in the coming year may be able to shore up their bottom lines so that they have a larger amount of resources to point toward these ends. For instance, finding more affordable small business insurance coverage, such as liability insurance policies, can cut costs by thousands of dollars per year.