(Image: facebook courtesy of pixabay.com)
Melissa Jones, Contributor
The Internet has transformed society, with its far-reaching powers; we now function from a technological realm and ICT’s (information communication technologies) are at the head of our daily lives. Weather we are conscious users or not, ICT’s are everywhere-in food production, education, entertainment, health care, mobility, gadgets and gizmos, and in commerce.
Melissa: About two decades ago, before the Internet of course, I can remember my many childhood adventures as a 10-year-old kid during the summer months, when school was out. Getting up in the morning thinking up great ideas with my best friend, Kevin, to some how convince these adults that we were good business people and they should share their money with us. With confidence in hand and smiles on our faces we went from door to door offering our services for money; weather it was cleaning houses, pets, cars, boats, shoveling snow, mowing lawns, or making home made cookies, our interest was to make money, the best way we knew how.
But gone are the days of door-to-door canvasing.
Hello and welcome to Inquery, I’m your host Melissa Jones and on today's episode we will discuss: Commerce: From Door-to-Door Canvasing to Social Media Marketing, with my guests Beth Adamson and Maurice Alexander.
Melissa: In today’s technologically driven world…online social networking and social media is king. This entire Social media exchange has given a new face to people since modernity has transformed the way we act as social beings. It has changed the way we see each other and the way communicate.
According to Hopkins in the article, Can Facebook be an effective mechanism for generating growth and value in small businesses? He says, online Social networks “are Internet sites that host and support a network of users profiles and relationships, where content can be exchanged, created and consumed between related registered users”.
And these online social communities where individuals exchange messages, and share information began with the introduction of the Internet to the world in 1991, when the web went live; this gave way to the first social media network site, LinkedIn in 2003, followed by both MySpace and Facebook in 2004.
These network sites caught on and have raised the bar for our online technological appetite.
(Announcement) Here is how the encyclopaediabritannica.com describes social media, the demand of the new age:
Maurice: A phenomenon involving the interconnection of ICT’s information and communications technologies, computer networks and media content. This is referring to platforms, and services that enable individuals to engage in communication from one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many. And is a direct consequence of the digitization of media content and the popularization of the Internet.
(Announcement) Melissa: That’s Maurice Alexander an IT specialist and sociology student at York University.
The rise of social media, he tells us, has transformed the way we communicate since the Internet has digitized information and media content.
Maurice: So now with the expansion and high demand of the Internet, it has opened up new avenues of commerce, specifically, in the area of technology, where companies presently incorporate social media into their business plan.
Melissa: In the article, Ten ways small businesses can use social media to generate leads Dovev Goldstein of The Globe and Mail discusses this technological development and how it has also dramatically changed the ways businesses market themselves, connect with customers, promote their brand, measure effectiveness, and conduct business; since traditional marketing has evolved to suit the vast online presence which has popularized social media marketing.
Beth Adamson: Yes absolutely, social media has definitely influenced businesses and the way they market themselves. Businesses are now spending more money at a faster rate on social media than any other forms of online marketing. According to Lacho, in the article *How Small Business Owners can use Social Networking To Promote Their Business, studies showed that spending on social networking has increased from $455 million in 2008 to $3.1 billion in 2014, in contrast to traditional email marketing of $1.2 billion in 2009 to 2.1 billion in 2014.
(Announcement) Melissa: That’s Beth Adamson a student of Business at George Brown College focusing on social media marketing for small businesses.
Melissa: Wow. That is a huge increase, Beth. Can you tell us what Social media marketing is and how it works?
Beth: Absolutely. Social media marketing or (SMM) is a form of Internet marketing that utilizes social networking as a marketing tool. The goal of SMM is to produce content that users will share on their social networking platform(s) as a way of advertising to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach.
Melissa: That’s a big difference from the emails, flyers, electronic phone calls, and random life size puppet with a big sign and balloons posted outside of stores.
Beth: (Laughter)…Yeah, it sure is.
Melissa: But Maurice, what does this all mean?
Maurice: Well for one, Social media is on the rise and it is not going anywhere. Secondly, it is changing the way we do everything.
And this is a big thing since everyone or most people posses some form of a digital communication device, whether it is a computer, tablet, or smart phone, people are connected through the Internet and are using social media network sites in droves.
Melissa: That’s so right. From someone who experienced the revolution from its inception I must admit it did seem like a fad to me. But, as it took off and grew exponentially I realized it was anything but a fad as it become a new social norm. In fact according to statista.com and alexa.com the most visited social media network site is Facebook. And as of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users worldwide that spend an average of 65 hours per year and 18 minutes per day on this platform.
Beth: And that is a huge accessible market for business owners. And with such a large consumer base the idea of using this platform to promote a business seems more than logical.
Especially, since there are fewer people reading newspapers or flipping threw magazines anymore. It is great way to advertise. Hands down it is a great place to introduce the world to your business.
(Announcement) Melissa: Beth Adamson is also a Self-employed Private Business Consultant who knows the inns and outs of running, building, and improving small businesses, using social media as a tool.
Melissa: What are the features or abilities of Facebook as a marketing tool?
Beth: Facebook allows small businesses to promote it’s self for FREE! And that is a great thing. However, for a small fee you can pick the exact market that you want to reach. It can be used to monitor the peak times your ideal clientele are online allowing you to prepare and manage information to capture them.
You can also promote your company’s website on Facebook. And in so doing you can find out metrics concerning where people are going as they visit your website, this information allows you to make time sensitive promotions and discounts to draw in customers, and by monetizing or putting promotions, purchase buttons, banners etc., on your Facebook page the customer’s social media experience is made easy and simple, since they can access your website directly, quickly, and safely from Facebook to purchase products.
Melissa: That sounds perfect. And is exactly what I wanted to talk about next, WESBSITES! Most of you might be wondering how to or when should a business create a website. This form of advertising or exposure is key for any business. A company should try and create a website as soon as they can, as it gives their company an edge. And there are many free web builder sites out there to help you with developing and creating your website. The bonus, you do not need to have a background in programming to do this. But depending on what you are looking for the price can vary. I’ve created a how to blog on developing a website https://stephanie-bell-m08b.squarespace.com/config#/%7C/blog-season1/a72fc35c-6744-4ebf-9e41-ac72cab1663d, be sure to check it out.
Beth: Yes, absolutely, a website is a must in order to stay relevant and take part in today's commerce, because it allows your products to be looked at from anywhere around the world at any given time.
Maurice: I agree fully. Considering that major business players are widely accessible, it is very important to keep up with technology as it creates space for your small business. And another way to do this is to create an App; this keeps both the business and the customer readily connected.
Melissa: Apps are a great addition to a business since they allow you to deliver existing goods and services in a more efficient means to you audience. I discuss the process of developing an App for you business in 12 steps https://stephanie-bell-m08b.squarespace.com/config#/%7C/blog-season1/4526158e-6a33-4e75-9f50-db6eb6699d27, be sure to check it out as well.
Beth: One of the most iconic images, aside from the Facebook logo itself, is the Facebook ‘Like’ button and this is a great marketing tool for your business; it can be included on your page and is another way to generate attention to your business.
Melissa: Of course! The Facebook like button with the thumbs up symbol, you see it everywhere, on Facebook pages and on other mediums. As Trattner and Kappe explain in their article, Social stream marketing on Facebook: a case study, since its debut more than 350, 000 sites installed the Like button and there are more than seven million websites integrated with Facebook. And many well-known company sites such as BestBuy.com, shoppersdrugmart.ca, TDbank.ca, and TMZ.com have all shifted their marketing strategies to incorporate Facebook’s eye catching and still popular image.
Melissa: What type of content should SB (small businesses) include when creating a FB (Facebook) page?
Beth: A small business should use lots of images and videos. They should post daily to keep the business relative. They should show products and promotions weekly. Also they should show events and highlight employees to create connections with pictures of staff/company functions.
Melissa: Beth, can you tell us how Facebook can be used as a tool to allow small businesses to create a place for themselves in the market place?
Beth: Well, Facebook allows Small Businesses to create a place for themselves because it increases traffic and awareness of the company. And it opens the door to millions of new and potential clients. This platform lets a company show its spunk while allowing it to stand uniquely. The use of Facebook lets small business owners receive direct feedback about their product(s), make improvements and/or changes, it also allows businesses to hone in on sharp customer service skills, and creates a foundation to build relationships with customers.
Melissa: I really like that aspect of it, it is very important that businesses create that relationship with their customers because for consumers it is essential that businesses listen to them. And thankfully social media makes it easier for customers to be heard instantly.
With both negative and positive comments, businesses can improve on their services, products and customer relations. Social media holds enormous potential for companies to get closer to customers, and by doing so, facilitate increased revenue, cost reduction and efficiency.
As Charity Pradiptarini points out in the article *Social Media Marketing: Measuring Its Effectiveness and Identifying the Target Market*, building trust and long-term relationship is done by effective two-way communication. By companies talking about things that customers are interested in, putting themselves in the customer’s shoes, and creating products that will solve customers’ problems, trust can be formed, and trust is the key factor in getting followers/fans to do something like purchase a product, change a buyer’s decision, or influence a peer or family member, which in turn increases revenue.
An example of this is found in the article, 6 Tips To Help Small Businesses Conquer Social Media by Quentin Casey of the National Post, where he discusses Blo, a chain of blow dry bars that started in Vancouver in 2007. Blo now has 34 locations across Canada, United States, Asia, and Russia. Hilary Chan-Kent says the company grew without spending a dollar on traditional advertising because they used social media to build and promote. Blo used most of the big networks-Facebook being one to share photos, highlight promotions, and interact directly with clients. Blo also shared ‘third party’ information from style and hair trends to gift giving ideas. It was all done as Kent describes in a “cheeky voice” to ensure they didn’t come across as self-promoting corporate drones, and confined the company’s slogans to 140-character catchy phrases to draw in customers. For example: “No cuts, no color: Just WASH BLOW GO”.
Melissa: Although the way we do business has changed the idea of appeasing to the customer on every level is still the ruling concept. Remember, in the social media networking world truth, honestly, and customer consideration wins the race.
The present day means of production incorporates technology in order to dominate the competition and maximize profits in the world of commerce. Although, it might seem daunting to those unfamiliar with technology, social media as a marketing tool will bring your company to the forefront, and allow it to rise to the next level.
Melissa: With this episode, we have defined, provided examples, and given instructions on Facebook as a business tool.
Thank you to my guest Beth Anderson and Maurice Alexander for there time, and have a great day!
You’ve picked a great place to start your inquiry and with this knowledge we hope you can further your ambitious nature and embrace the future.
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