*This article was originally published on Betakit.com on June 26, 2014
Social media has changed the way small businesses engage with customers, promote their products and increase brand awareness, but many Canadian small businesses still shy away from an online presence.
Canadian consumers have indicated that they are devoted to small businesses, but they want around the clock access to their local businesses through online channels and connected technology. A recent study conducted by Harris Decima and commissioned by Rogers found that Canadians are loyal supporters of small business today, but 60 per cent of consumers believe that small businesses should operate an ecommerce site, and are not currently active enough online.
Here are a few quick and easy strategies to get your small businesses some buzz and even sales online.
The same Harris Decima study also found that over half of Generation Y consumers want small businesses to have a strong social media presence. Building an online presence takes time, and while it might seem like a daunting task, the sooner you get started the easier it will be. “Every business needs some kind of web presence, whether it’s a website, a blog, a Facebook page or all of the above,” says Carrie Shaw, head of marketing for OutRank by Rogers, an online marketing solution for small businesses.
Boost Your Online Presence
Once your small business is up and running on a few social platforms the next challenge is attracting web traffic. While blogs and social media accounts will help customers who are already familiar with the brand engage and connect with it more easily, when it comes to finding new customers, “none of these will do a business any good if there is no traffic directed to them,” adds Shaw. “The two most common strategies to do so are paid search and SEO, and I would recommend both.”
Engage With Your Online Community
Now that your business has traffic on its social media channels it’s important that the messaging is consistent and aligned with the company’s values, culture and brand identity. Social media is a great reputation management tool, allowing brands to keep an eye on what other users say about their business. When customers ask a question or leave comments, be sure to answer in a timely manner. If consumers leave complaints, address them politely, thank users for their input and consider their opinion moving forward.
Turn Followers into Customers
Building a strong online following is important for branding and promotion, but in order to really get the most out of social media small businesses need to turn those fans into active customers. The best way to do that within the digital realm is through an ecommerce store. Online stores give consumers a way to quickly and easily move from a social media page to an online checkout page. It also allows companies to make sales 24/7, even outside of the office environment. Having a mobile ecommerce store will even allow consumers to shop on the go, which has become increasingly important with Generation Y consumers.