#CHSupportsLokal – How Social Media Can Benefit Small Businesses (SMEs) – Here Are 6 Ways
Social media is an important aspect of digital marketing as it helps improve brand awareness for businesses. Read this article to find out how your small business can take advantage of social media.
With 3.96 billion people or more than half of the world now on social media, it’s fair to say that social media is a powerful and essential tool for both businesses and personal use.
Despite this, only about 70.5% of businesses in Malaysia use social media, either through WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram to engage and interact with customers, according to a 2018 survey by SME Corp. Malaysia and Huawei Technologies. The survey focuses on small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing and service sectors across all regions in Malaysia.
Though social media utilisation for customer engagement is generally high in Malaysia, according to the same survey, it still hasn’t reached it’s full potential or even lags in certain states such as the northern region, where almost one-third of the total respondents say they have no plans on using social media at all.
On an individual scale, the average person spends almost two hours on social media every day. Why? Because social media is a great way for people to connect and engage with friends, family, and brands they love. Beyond serving as a tool of connection and embarrassing reminders (Facebook memories anyone?). Many people also rely on social media for news, family updates, and current events. More customers are joining social media networks to look for reviews and recommendations as well. In retrospect, that makes social media super powerful.
So it is concerning to know that many SMEs in Malaysia, who also make up the backbone of Malaysia’s economy or 98.5% of all business establishments in Malaysia in 2019, are not fully harnessing social media. By the way, SMEs also contributed RM521.7 billion of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and provided 7.3 million jobs to 48.4% of Malaysia’s workforce.
It’s clear that our SMEs play a pivotal role in our economy, and their success equates to our success. In this article, we will take a look at how using social media can help SMEs scale digitally, leading to increased engagement, sales and productivity.
Coca-Cola has great brand recognition – a fair to say that many people can identify and associate the logo and classic red colour of the brand with their products.
1. Improves brand awareness and recognition
For a business to successfully dominate the market share for a specific product, they must first excel in selling it to the consumers. To achieve this, consumers need to have a level of familiarity and knowledge about the brand beforehand. There’s where brand recognition and awareness comes into play.
Brand awareness and recognition are so powerful that it could be the determining factor when someone decides to buy or (drop) a certain product. For those who are not quite sure what brand recognition entails, it means when consumers can identify the brand characteristics (e.g. logo and packaging) without any clue or info about the company’s name.
In a world that has extended beyond traditional advertising like out-of-home advertising and pamphlets, into the endless world of digitalisation, brands can now – more than ever – get airtime from consumers.
This is why it is pertinent that brands take advantage of digital tools to amplify their brands online as well. Social media is a great way to increase brand visibility and to ensure your content and business story reaches a wider audience.
Got a huge sale coming up? Many brands have chosen to do live streams of sales or giveaways as a way to engage and interact with their customers in real time.
2. Engage with customers
In today’s digital world, the job scope of a customer service specialist goes beyond making calls or sending emails to customers. Today, some also include reaching out to fans or customers via social media; others may have to monitor Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and reply to any comments, in what has been described as community management.
Although emails and phone numbers are great ways to connect with customers, social media allows a brand to communicate with their audience much faster and on a larger scale. The only challenge to community management is it is visible to the eyes of the public so every move or communication made by the brand will be under tight scrutiny.
For smaller businesses that may not have the scale or platform to engage with an audience, social media is a great way to interact with customers. Businesses get to speak to potential and established customers directly and establish a company voice and tone to the audience.
The best way to get to know your customers is by interacting with them. The more you communicate and engage with your customers, the higher chances you have of conversion – as well as retaining existing customers. But that’s not all, social media is also another way for your brand to engage with other clients, investors, and brands as well.
Though there isn’t a similar survey in Malaysia, a survey from Constant Contact, which got its findings from 2,000 SMEs showed that 60% of them said Twitter is an effective platform to connect with customers, and another 81% said they use social media to market their business.
Raya di mana-mana rasanya sama sahaja kalau sentiasa bersama keluarga. Selamat Hari Raya to all our Muslim friends!🔥 pic.twitter.com/NGsC2WUF89
— Nando’s Malaysia (@NandosMY) September 26, 2020
Take this example of the New Straits Times interacting with Nandos Malaysia.
Different platforms will cater to different audiences. For example, Twitter is a suitable platform for brands who want to engage with a younger audience that engages in quickfire tweets.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a suitable platform for brands that would like to share content for professionals and businesses.
3. Build brand loyalty and retention
It is not enough to just build brand awareness and recognition. To truly succeed as a business, companies must retain their customers.
More customers are open to trying new experiences and brands, but brand loyalty remains a pivotal key component of marketing in the 20th century.
Of course, we are not saying this is the defining factor – a survey by Nielsen revealed that just 9% of Malaysians consider themselves committed loyalists when it comes to their favourite brands. Meanwhile, a significant 44% are more into “newism” or trying new brands and products. The other 47% say they prefer to stick with brands they know, but are open to experimenting new products or services given the right factors.
Although brand loyalty may no longer be a given these days, in a world where consumers have endless options to choose and buy from, we can safely assume that at least 9% of customers in Malaysia are loyal to brands.
A good brand will build ambassadors, people who will help their business retain customers in the long term. Just a simple illustration of brand loyalty at play – would you rather choose a restaurant with a rude server or a place where the waiter was both warm and engaging? Brands that give their audience an unforgettable and memorable experience – something that can’t be found or replicated – anywhere else, will find customers coming back.
Any brand will tell you that brand loyalty is a key component of marketing, and thanks to the power of social media, companies have the scale and ability to interact directly with consumers, making it easier to achieve brand loyalty.
But we will be frank because anyone can get on social media, it has become an immensely competitive space as well.
4. Promote your products and services
In the past, businesses needed to pay for a slot in their local newspaper, yellow page or magazine. But thanks to social media, anyone can promote their products and services online for free! (we are not talking about paid digital advertising because that’s a whole different conversation).
This reason is why the promotion in social networks is a norm and necessity for any digital business.
A disclaimer though – making a sales pitch on social media could be equivalent to walking a tightrope. Customers may be turned off by messages that are too hard to sell – and if you are not careful your followers may unfollow or unfriend you faster than the snap of a finger.
The key here is to get your messaging right. Social postings that are honest, come from a good place, have sincere intentions may pick up wind, and go “viral,” a situation that could see an increase in sales. Wrong messages, however, do the exact opposite. Find the perfect balance.
A product video is an interactive way to help consumers better understand your product, and how to properly use or apply in their daily lives.
Some quick tips we found on how to sell your products or services online is to run a contest or campaign promotion, really connect with users on a deeper level, create more product videos or explainers that are helpful and useful for readers, create user-generated content, and know your target audience well for different platforms.
5. Higher traffic
If you work in the marketing industry, a common thing you’ll hear from any marketer, seasoned or beginners, is the need to bring in a lot of traffic to make your website work or for it to carry value.
With so many brands now going online, many realise the importance of securing the market share of the Internet or the “traffic.”
Increasing site traffic is an ongoing priority for e-commerce companies or digital companies as the Internet is the bread and butter of their businesses.
Though many local microenterprises leverage e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee or even Instagram or Facebook shops to generate revenue, there is great value for brands to start and grow their websites as the primary source of revenue.
Brands who understand the value of SEO or search engine optimization will dedicate their marketing efforts to improve the site ranking of their pages because the higher the rank in Google, the more views and the higher the brand visibility and the more potential customers you have.
But does more traffic equal to more money? Because despite the high traffic and eyeballs, if no one clicks buy or add to cart, does it matter? The key is to understand how many visitors turn into clients or paying customers, aka the conversion rate.
But high traffic or being highly-ranked on Google would mean nothing if your business only has a 1% conversion rate. The conclusion here is that though traffic is important, it is equally crucial to convince people that your product or service is the best.
All in all, when your business shares your website or blog content on social media, you give them a reason to visit your website, which could help grow your website’s traffic.
6. Gather data from customer surveys to improve business
Everyone needs feedback to be able to improve. Social media is also a great way to learn more about your customers and their preferences to help improve your products and services.
Businesses or brands that want to increase their revenue and customer retention, can opt to conduct a survey to better understand their customer’s perception towards them.
Gone are the days where surveys need to be carried out manually – now with just a few clicks businesses can conduct quick surveys through social media – giving essential information and data that will reveal customer preferences and when analysed and used correctly, helps companies build better strategies to become more successful.
It’s important to remember that your current customers have the biggest potential to turn into buyers and they cost less than acquiring new ones according to fortunly.
Companies that invest more time and energy in customer feedback with the goal of improving their current customers’ experiences, will reap the benefits.
From our research, many surveys reveal that businesses realise and acknowledge the importance of social media for their business performance. According to a 2019 study by Buffer, 73% of marketers believe that their efforts through social media marketing have been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business. In terms of the reach and impact of social media, the numbers show that 54% of social browsers use social media to research products, according to GlobalWebIndex.
However, though businesses may generally realise the importance of social media, many smaller and micro-enterprises in Malaysia still lag when it comes to social media marketing and management.
The power of social media cuts lines, borders and industries, it’s even affected global politics and the economy as well, so leveraging on it could be the best investment you will ever do for your business.
We hope you found this article insightful!
The pandemic has severely affected the livelihoods of many small-medium enterprises in the country. CompareHero.my understands and acknowledges these challenges, and through its #CHSupportsLokal series hopes to provide our local businesses with educational and informative content to help better run, manage and operate their businesses. Stay tuned for more content!