As a marketing professional in Australia, you are no doubt using social media to connect with new business prospects and stay connected with current clients. From small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) to large corporate brands, increasing numbers of companies are adapting their marketing to include social media. Social platforms present vital tools for SMEs, and are becoming more of a necessity in an ever-changing technological market.
In a study conducted by LinkedIn, it was found that 89 percent of companies surveyed use social media to build awareness of their brand, and 72 percent see social media as essential for the future of their business.
Matt Tindale, director, Marketing Solutions AU & NZ at LinkedIn suggests that, “With SME prospects, leads, and customers active on social media too, not being a part of the conversation is detrimental to brand awareness and customer retention. LinkedIn provides the tools a SME needs to be a part of that conversation in informative, inspirational, and insightful ways.”
“I believe that both small and large business alike are finally realising that simply having the most junior marketing employee updating their company pages is not enough,” said Stephan Grace of Ashdown Consulting. “We are seeing huge growth in highly paid internal roles focused on social media, and also the rise of boutique specialist agencies growing quickly in this space.”
So what does this mean for you? It means that engaging with your future client has become even easier. Holding their attention, however, is the new name of the game. SMEs are looking for two big things out of social media: 1) growing their customer base and 2) collecting information to make informed financial decisions. By effectively using social media, you can provide your client with relevant information and improve overall and specific points of your customers’ experience. LinkedIn has shared several ways to accomplish these goals.
Enable Learning throughout Each Phase of the Customer Purchase Path
Informing your potential clients about the uses of social media is a powerful way to start the dialogue. Companies already know it’s a solid way to communicate with their customer base, so show them the platform’s capabilities beyond this.
The SMEs surveyed by LinkedIn shared their top five uses for social media: 1) delivering content and new information about their company; 2) advertising to help increase awareness; 3) generating word-of-mouth about the company; 4) maintaining a company presence and identity online; and 5) for promotional purposes and to provide deals to consumers.
The biggest issues for SMEs related to the use of social media come down to two things,” said Grace, “first – getting it right. Social media can also be extremely damaging to a brand and make a company look amateurish if not executed well. Second is consistency; engaging with customers is great with relevant content, but ensuring it’s not an initial burst that then fades away is also a common mistake.”
By using your company’s social media platforms in these ways, you open more chances for dialogue about your company’s products and services. Create a marketing strategy that puts your company in front of its clients on a more regular basis so that you can communicate with them through a more casual setting. In addition, this casual and personable atmosphere creates a more receptive audience.
Fulfil Sales-boosting Content Needs
The number one challenge companies, particularly SMEs, have in today’s market is attracting new, business-sustaining customers. Many markets are saturated with similar options for products or services. A creative marketing strategy empowered by social media can help attract new clientele. In LinkedIn’s survey, 65 percent of responders shared that they believe social media is a vital resource for getting new customers.
SMEs also agreed that it’s a great channel for marketing strategies such as advertising, branding, content delivery and customer service. Whether you work on a marketing team at a company or for a marketing firm, you are in a unique situation to fill the marketing and advertising gaps of your company with social media options.
Close your marketing gap by providing content relevant to your clients and the business’s goals and cultures. Content marketing continues to be among the most effective value-building business tools, adding exponential clout to your marketing efforts. Banner and popup ads are easily ignored by today’s consumers; instead of visual advertisements, you can enrich your customer’s lives with an interesting article pertaining in some way to the goods or services the company provides.
Social media platforms are especially influential for businesses that are looking for financial service providers. Over three quarters of SMEs surveyed by LinkedIn shared they have used social media for finance-related purposes, including keeping up-to-date with financial trends, gathering preliminary financial information, seeking advice on a financial decision, recommending a financial project to others and revaluating a previous financial decision.
Target hyper-growth companies
There are over 200 companies in Australia that can be classified as SMEs, with around 13 percent of those companies experiencing hyper-growth in the last year. In conducting this study, LinkedIn found that the revenue growth these companies experienced was related to an increased marketing spend on social media.
In fact, 58 percent of the businesses surveyed attributed their hyper-growth to the increased spend on social media advertising. And to keep the cycle going, businesses that are experiencing hyper-growth are more likely to use social media specifically to continue driving sales and growth. Most impressively, 68 percent of hyper-growth companies use LinkedIn.
When sourcing your next project, look towards making connections with these companies experiencing hyper-growth. They are sure to be pushing a big social media platform campaign. As stated earlier, your company could be just what they need to fill their content and marketing strategy gaps.
Provide Resources for the Entire SMB Value Chain
When creating a marketing strategy based on one or several social media platforms, make sure your efforts do not just focus on marketing. Consider all parts of the SME’s value chain, such as sales, open innovation, sourcing and customer service.
“I believe when using LinkedIn to approach SME companies, choosing who you interact with is essential,” shared Grace. “With larger corporations it’s easier to hit a number of people across and organisation and gain traction, but in SMEs approaching the top leadership is the key in gaining success and credibility.”
By providing a company with support, ideas, and resources for several facets of their business, you will enrich the entire customer experience.
Facilitate Open Dialogue to Increase Credibility
Not so surprisingly, the best way to reach out to these SMEs is through social media. Using LinkedIn will allow companies to see your credentials and what projects you’ve worked on before you strike up an official conversation about their marketing needs. Establish immediate credibility and position yourself as the go-to expert.
Your understanding of social media and ability to apply your knowledge to a specific company’s needs can result in successful marketing campaigns for SMEs; the lifeblood of Australian business.