Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 18, 2012 1:37PM
This past week I observed some minor ripples in the southern shores of the social media lake. A local Northwest Indiana company made outreach to another local Northwest Indiana company specializing in positive news and social media marketing. The reactions from local social media junkies to small business owners because of this hash tag #nwindiana were quite interesting.
These responses varied from “unpaid work” to “unusual hiring method.” What was quite obvious is there is still a lot of disagreement as to how to swim in the social media stream as well as to the short and long term value of social media especially for small businesses.
Also there are a plethora of definitions when it comes to brand, marketing, advertising and social media along with a lot of presumptions by small business owners to business professionals. Reading the various feeds from Twitter to blogs was indeed quite revealing.
So what does swimming in the social media stream mean for any small business here in Northwest Indiana? The answer cannot be explained in one column, but I do know to ignore social media is probably quite dangerous even if a business chooses not to engage in this inbound marketing action.
The danger is many others businesses along with professionals are already swimming and a few, potentially your competitors, are doing social media very well. Having an online digital presence now extends beyond just having a static website to a website with a blog preferably linked to your main website using a Wordpress format. Integrating the various social media currents such as Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. Pinterest and YouTube are necessary to reach different target markets.
Business research suggests up to 50 percent of all businesses still lack a website. Of the other 50 percent of small businesses with a website, many realize little to no traffic. Hiring a professional website designer does not ensure search engine optimization (SEO) nor guarantee inbound traffic (actual visitors). Then there is the issue of converting those visitors to becoming actual paying customers.
One recent report from Monetate indicated search traffic beat the average order value (AOV) over email and social traffic. Not having a website appears to be a significant obstacle in acquiring new business to maintaining existing loyal customers.
What social media has done is expanded the business acumen for all small business owners to even C Suite executives. This phenomenon has ensured that a digital footprint is essential even if it is only your business website.
To join in the social media stream should be a strategic decision that unites all departments as well as works with current strategies and goals. So if you are thinking about getting into the swim of social media, invest the time to conduct your research to avoid the cannon ball approach where you make just one big splash.
P.S. Shout Out: Ivy Tech campuses in Lake and Porter counties.