Leveraging social media for small businesses

This article is in continuation of my previous article (3 most common constraints of small businesses). Initially when I started this research I assumed it
would be quite straightforward article, as we all know the basics usage of social media, but I was wrong. I have realised that knowing how to use social
media is a tip of iceberg, especially for businesses and start-ups social media is vital and if used as a strategic communication platform, it can bring
the competitive advantage.

Most of the start-ups are one-person army, many of us are good in what we do as a core business (Writing, designing, painting and stitching etc.) but are
we spot on in using social media to brand and communicate our businesses? Do we need communication strategy for small businesses and start-ups? Is it
really required for all of us to keep refining our social media communication skills based on the platform (Facebook, Google plus, Twitter, Pinterest and
Instagram etc.)? In this Article we shall attempt to demystify the communication strategy of small businesses on social media (Facebook and twitter).

Parameters Facebook (FB) Twitter
Image and Usage Image – FB in its early years was known for youth networking. But since 2011 -12 the demography has been changing.

The number of FB users between age group 25 to 54 has increased significantly in the last few years.

Usage – Socialising to make friends and to have lighter (fun) discussions. Discussion on products and services in impulse buying category
(Example-Garments , Jewellery etc.,)

Image – Mostly Serves business crowd. Industry experts, Millennials (bloggers), Brand profiles and celebrities etc.

Usage – Microblogging differs significantly from Facebook. Brand building, news, opinion, more business and information oriented
discussions.

SWOT for small businesses.

(S – strength,
W – Weakness
O- Opportunity
T – Threat)

S – Dominating in social network

W – Crowded Newsfeed, hardly gets visibility of your advertisement. Anyone can create business page. Even those who don’t have a registered
legal entity to do business. (This is something taken care in Google plus – Via verification code)

O– More users of age group 25 to 54

T – Small businesses need to be extra vigilant on your business content and ideas stealing by other individuals.

Mitigation – If your business is legally registered then mention in the about section of the business page as much information as you can,
this makes the business page look authentic and legal which in turn leads to more business.

S – Influential users, open conversation (all posts are searchable), trends and news are great features. Tweets travels very quickly due to open platform (testimonials or customer critics).

W– The platform has language and etiquette all its own. Takes time to absorb the communication pattern for new users.

O – More flexible in locating and connecting to target market segment which enables reaching to more influential contacts.

T – Very important is to keep watching your tweets as it is open platform. If tweet is misunderstood or not crafted carefully, then it just
can go viral very quickly

Note – Our Next article is on FB and twitter best practices, if used properly the platform has lot of potential for small businesses

Strategy

Below communication strategy is based on two high level categories.

Category A
– Impulse buying products & services (Ex: make up, garments, accessories, home decor, games, Books and Novels etc.)

Category B
– Necessity, niche products and services. (Ex: medical equipment’s, Maternity specific (tens machine, sterilisers), software, Consulting etc.)

(Many businesses can find it difficult to categories their products and services under Category A or B .You can contact us via email ( contact@moizanite.com) for further help on communication strategy. Please note that the communication strategy should be tailored to every business
based on their offerings, vision and objectives)

Parameters Facebook (FB) Twitter
Frequency Vs Focus Category A products advertising trend – More than 60% messages are broadcasted and fewer messages to the individuals

Strategy
– More emphasis on Reach via frequent messages and broadcasts, be creative and combine elements of fun and value in your messages.

Category B Businesses trend – More than 60% messages to the individuals and fewer broadcasted messages

Strategy
– More emphasis on Relevance. Create relevant messaging and focus target groups. Every unique and relevant broadcast improves brand image
and any less relevant broadcast may reduce the interest of those readers for the forthcoming broadcasts.

Trend
– Category A businesses advertisement on twitter is far less as compared to FBStrategy
Reach via frequent tweets, Watch for the news/trends relevant to your product and contribute actively,
use hashtags if required, to build the list.Trend
– Most of the Category B products are quite visible on Twitter and has good list of followers.

Strategy
– Frequency and focus both.

Push Vs Pull Cat A – Push advertisement/messages works if it has element of entertainment, too many posts on sales advert may lead to, ID/profile
blocked by users/groups.Cat B- Pull, keep creating value for customers and frequent posts on your pages/groups etc.
Twitter is an interesting platform when it comes to Push Vs Pull strategy.

All the new profiles (start-ups and small businesses) initially join the groups and follow the relevant groups so, they push adverts via
Tweets. Over a period of time you get followers based on product, brand, quality of tweets etc. and then you start getting tweets as a
customer enquiry/testimonials. The popular brands create its own tweet. The businesses need to keep observing those tweets, for any major
complaints.

We will cover the analysis of other social media Google plus, Pinterest, LinkedIn in our future Articles. Please like our business page to receive all the
future communications https://www.facebook.com/MOIZANITE

Three most common challenges for small businesses and start ups

Rome was not built in a day, so the small businesses. Let’s find out the Focal point of new start-ups/small businesses and if we are spending our limited resources efficiently. New start-ups and small businesses often has similar constraints. Below are the top three common constraints we shall attempt to demystify in this article.

  • The most common is the limited Finance.
  • The Second in our list is limited skills (Technical/Marketing/ Branding/legal& Financial) to set-up the full fledge business and
  • Third is of course the time.

Let’s discuss how these three constraints was dealt by other businesses who are successful today or doing well.

Limited Finance –  Yes it is limited, and if business don’t generate any revenue for 3 to 4 months, the panic creeps up. So the small businesses starts looking for quick inflow of funds (through Affiliate Marketing, google ad words etc.). There is no harm, as long as these are managed and in sync with your own product and brand.  The most important is not reducing your website performance or your brand value, that would really hit your own creative product or services.

Second solution for dealing with limited finance is share your cost, we are very fortunate that we are living in the era of information age. You can search for investors who wants to invest in your product. Of course you need to sort out all the legal stuff between you and investor. Also, it is a good idea to outsource some of the activities to reduce the cost and increase the quality, this also addresses the second constraint of skill gap.

Skills Gap – Being a new start up with limited resources it is complicated to strike a balance between your time spent to save money or earn money. If a business women who is very creative in jewellery starts learning how to create website, Payment gateway and security, Branding and Marketing etc.  to save extra bucks but at the cost of core product /services it’s not very optimum utilisation of time and efforts.

Honestly it’s for every business to decide their own model, but here is a formula which can assist in your decision of DIY or outsource (Opportunity cost)

Opportunity cost between the two – Time spent in a week to learn the skill + Money spent to get training etc. + Ongoing time spent in maintenance and skill upgrade, and other subjective factors to consider (Quality, security, legal etc).  Now if the same time and money you would have spent in your core product building and outsource other competencies?

It is complicated to put value to all the factors,  especially subjective factors like low quality risk, security risks, legal risks when you don’t go to professionals and do it yourself.

What the other successful businesses did? When they were small start-ups with limited resources, the research on 50 plus case studies shows they outsourced most of the competencies required to build the business and concentrated on their core product.

Limited time can be managed efficiently if the start-ups and small businesses can manage the above two.

Finally, my best wishes to all the amazing, talented start-ups and small businesses.

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