It used to be that small businesses didn’t have a chance of competing against large corporations with enormous marketing budgets. Those big companies could invest many thousands of dollars into their marketing – buying billboards, taking out radio and TV spots and reaching millions of people almost overnight.
This left many small business owners feeling frustrated and utterly ineffective. However, social media has changed all that.
While social media certainly doesn’t automatically guarantee business success, it does level the playing field considerably.
This post will look at some of the ways ANY business – of any size, and with any budget – can compete with the big boys through the strategic use of social media.
1. Show the personal side of your business
As I’ve said many times before, people want to buy from people/companies they know, like and trust.People want to buy from people and companies they know, like and trust.Click To Tweet
For large organizations, showing their “personal side” can be a challenge. They may have a dedicated social media manager – or even entire teams – running their social media. While this is absolutely necessary for large companies, it can mean some of the personalization is lost.
As a small business owner, you likely do your own social media. This makes it relatively easy for you to show the real person behind your brand…YOU!
You can do this in a number of ways:
- Share personal stories or anecdotes
- Show “behind the scenes” photos or videos
- Use live streaming to share personal thoughts or opinions on hot topics
- Connect with fans and followers directly, rather than through a middleman (i.e. social media manager)
2. Take advantage of online reviews
Getting online reviews is completely free, and can go a long way towards establishing the credibility of your business.
According to BrightLocal, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Click To Tweet
This makes online customer reviews of your business critical if you want to compete with the big boys.
There are a number of popular sites that you’ll want to get listed/reviewed on. They include:
- Google My Business
- Yahoo Local
- Angie’s List (for service-based businesses)
- Better Business Bureau
If you’re a local business – or have a local component to your business – getting these reviews is especially important; 92% of consumers now read online reviews for local businesses!
3. When you have an amazing product or service, your followers will do your marketing for you – for FREE!
Word-of-mouth is undeniably the best type of marketing. And the best part about it? It’s completely FREE!Word-of-mouth is the best type of marketing. And the best part about it? It’s completely FREE!Click To Tweet
When you have a truly great product or service, your customers are more likely to talk about it…both in real life and on social media. And this type of personal recommendation can go a LONG way toward establishing trust, building visibility and boosting sales.
While you obviously don’t have direct control over this form of marketing (that’s the very reason people trust word-of-mouth so much), there are some strategies you can use to encourage your customers to talk about your business on social media. These include:
- Directly asking for referrals (“If you have found value in our product, please share with your friends and family!”)
- Asking for testimonials you can use on your website and on social media
- Go above and beyond when dealing with your customers, both in terms of your actual product and customer service
- Offer incentives for referrals (e.g., 10% discount on next order if someone refers a friend)
4. Share truly meaningful content
I don’t in any way mean to bash big companies…but the reality is that it can be more difficult for big businesses to truly understand where their customers are coming from.
Since small business owners typically do their own social media marketing, they tend to be more in tune with the “word on the street”. They hear comments, questions, concerns, etc. every day, so they know what their customers are dealing with.
Pay close attention to what your audience is saying so you can share content they need to hear.
This means you can share content on social media that’s TRULY meaningful to your audience.
I encourage business owners – regardless of business-size – to pay close attention to what their audience is saying, and then to create and share content that specifically addresses those issues.
5. Use what you’ve learned on social media to improve your business
A major advantage of being a small business is the ability to be nimble. In order to change business processes or introduce new products, large corporations have to go through A LOT of red tape: getting buy-in from management, running focus groups, getting approval from the board, etc.
Small businesses, on the other hand, can often move much more quickly. In fact, I’ve even known some business owners who got a new service up and running in DAYS because they saw the need for it on social media!
Pay attention to what your audience is telling you, then act quickly to meet their needs and expectations!Pay attention to what your audience is saying, then act quickly to meet their needs and expectations!Click To Tweet
6. Use free or low-cost tools to jumpstart your social media marketing
Agora Pulse lets you manage all your social media accounts in one place.
With so many amazing free or cheap tools out there, you don’t need to invest a ton of money to create or manage your social media posts.
There are tools out there that allow you to schedule your posts, manage posts across different platforms, create images and videos with NO design skills…there’s a tool for everything you can think of!
Some of my favorites are:
- Social Mention: For monitoring mentions of your brand or products
- Agora Pulse: For managing all your social media accounts in one place
- Tagboard: For keeping track of hashtags on major social networks
- ManageFlitter: For managing your follower growth on Twitter
- Canva: For creating eye-catching images to share on social media
Looking for more social media tool recommendations? These posts might help:
The long and the short of it is this: you CAN compete with big businesses when it comes to social media. It may not always be quick, and it may not always be easy, but there’s no reason you can’t give the “big boys” a run for their money if you stick with it.
Do you think it’s possible for any business to compete with the big boys using social media? Why or why not? Share below!