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Small Business Stuck in Neutral on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

November 17, 2011 | By | No Comments

While small businesses use social media personally and believe it affects their businesses, the majority of don’t know how to use the new networks to build their companies. Additionally, most don’t plan on investing online until they understand the practices and payoffs. That’s the headline finding in a new study we just released with small business community – OfficeArrow.

Nearly three quarters (73%) of our member community of small business owners said they access social networks on smartphones or other mobile devices, yet 67% are holding back investing in social media because they don’t know where to begin. What’s holding them back is a sense of overload, in particular fear of the resources required to meet the expectations of social media users. Specifically, 51% fear sharing sensitive information; 50% say there’s too much social media to manage; and 44% fear “information overload.” The study engaged 343 small business executives, predominantly from companies with fewer than 10 employees, via email and website surveys. All are members of the OfficeArrow network.

The reality is that small businesses need a playbook to proceed in social media.  Entrepreneurs are the heart and soul of the American economy. Preparing them to capitalize on the business opportunities social media should be a top priority.

The solution is to treat social media as a platform for listening, not talking.  Among the 41% of small businesses taking any social media action, the focus is solidly on promoting to increase brand awareness. However, 60% say they do want to use social media as an information source; they just don’t know how.  Here are three initial steps small businesses need to take:

 Find your customers online. There’s a world beyond Facebook and Twitter online, where people bare their feelings instantaneously. Identify the places where customers are commenting, linking and sharing content.

  1. Set up to listen. Establish feeds to extract relevant insights continually. Everything tells you something about what really matters to the people a business intends to serve.
  2. Emphasize customer service. It’s possible do more for less through online customer service. Catalog what people like, trust, dislike, and distrust, about your company, competitors and category. Pinpoint the key dissatisfactions and consider ways to automate tasks for customers.

The most important resource is a specialist in monitoring social media.  Your business needs to focus resources on customer action, and monitoring professionals combine the technology and analysis.

social media small business infographic

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