Social Media Engagement and Small Businesses in 2019

The reports from We Are Social and Hootsuite find that more than half of the world population is online. The number of internet users in 2018 is 4.021 billion, social media users are 3.196 billion and mobile phone users is 5.135 billion. The internet penetrations are low in Africa and South Asia but these are the regions which are witnessing fastest growth. According to the report of Statista with 460 million internet users India is the second largest online market after China. By 2021 it is estimated that there would be 635.8 million people in India would be using Internet. In India, the number of digital customers would grow from 82 million in 2015 to 249 million in 2019.

The above data shows that the power of social media marketing cannot be overlooked. First and foremost the presence in social media platforms enforces search engines that you are real and genuine business and help in improving the website page rank. Sharing of the content on social media gives strong signal to search engines that you have something valuable content that social media users are reading and useful to them.

Just maintaining account on social media platform is not enough, the qualitative engagement is needed because the social media users love to know information and data about products and services on real time. The big ecommerce giants and other companies have started to maintain a dedicated social media support team for brand promotion and answering the user queries on real time basis.

One important aspect of all the social media platforms is the news feed mechanism. The social users get notifications on different events and happenings on this news feed interface. Different social media have their own policies about displaying the content on this news feed. The policy is largely driven by the interests of the social users after all they want to give best experience to their users. The largest social media platform Facebook with 2.23 billion monthly active users decided to show only posts related to family, friends, relations, personal posts etc in news feed. This move limited the scope of marketing content for digital marketers. Although marketers found out other way of promoting their brand and services through the use of Facebook Group pages which Facebook actively support with latest tools and techniques.   

The emergence of social media influencers has changed the trend of marketing. They have significant influence on buying decision of the customers. The traditional method of endorsement by celebrities through different media like TV, print and news papers are no more effective. Now days before making any buying decision people look at various posts written by bloggers, product review and ratings. Many people look at posts by peers in social media to know more about products and services. They now more rely on feedbacks given by social media friends and peers.  

A social media influencer is a blogger or writer who has expertise in his/her area and knows the various aspects of the products and services. Many companies who are in the same niche are collaborating with these people to endorse their products. People trust more on these influencers because they are expert in their areas and know better than them. These influencers have already got large audience and that is why companies get readymade consumers who may buy their products. The conversion rate is also good when they collaborate with these new digital brand ambassadors. The social media brand ambassadors are not too expensive like traditional celebrities. So this is the win-win situation for everyone.  

The social media listening tools help in finding what people say about your products and services. Using these tools you can set a list of keywords for which you would get alerts. This also gives an opportunity to know what people are talking about your competitors. By analysis such inputs from various channels you can brainstorm and make a new strategy for marketing or business improvement.

The role of hashtags is immense in social media. These tags represent unique kind of information or post where users with similar interests or likes can share information or knowledge and all data related to a particular hashtag is stored in a repository. This is the new effective strategy being employed by companies to promote their brands. For an example if a consumer buy a product then he can post his experience with the product or how he is using the product, he can share images of the products and so on. The other social media users can dig or search into such hashtags and can get idea about the items and can make up their mind for buying.

It is seen that visual data has more impact on users or consumers. Social media contains data like texts, pictures, infograph, and short videos. The videos have much impact on customers because it explains the products and services in better way in the shortest time. So promoting products and services through short and crisp attractive videos with good sound and music can engage many people with the brand. Many short videos are created by the companies and are shared in the YouTube platform. This sharing has domino effect because they are shared by many people and this way the product can influence many people over the social networks.

There are many tools like messaging app, meeting hosting app, chat bots which can effectively be used to make strong and long lasting relations with the people. Companies devise many posts according to the need of different type of customers for deeper engagement. The social media has made hassle free environment where people themselves can share their problems, experiences and opinions. They can talk to each other and can get answers for their queries from company’s staff.  Such fruitful engagement increases the trust and transparency about the brands and also works as feedback mechanism for incorporating the changes.  

For small business the presence in social media is crucial and such engagement can work as game changer for small business owners. They can effectively engage with people and can explain their products and services to the people in better way. They can directly build emotional relationship with customers. The endorsement by social media people can further increase the sell and can work as panacea for brand promotion. Many small business owners are getting benefit from social media across the world. In such way the small owners don’t need to invest much money for their brand promotion. So with careful planning and execution they can increase their profit and also get international exposure.