2012 will be an interesting year for small business owners. Particularly those who take advantage of social media opportunities and who pay attention to their customers – the two go hand-in-hand.
It is no longer business as usual and paying attention to customers now means (for most of us, if not all of us) having a well-crafted online presence as well as delivering on our promises for the products and services we sell.
Social networking is here to stay and figuring out what sites to invest your time and energy in, and how, are key to your business’ future! It doesn’t mean being all things to all people. It does mean figuring out where your target audience is engaging (social networking sites) and developing a strategy for how you’re going to reach them.
For most of us, the big social networking players are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. YouTube is not listed in the list of ‘Leading US Social Media Sites’ in the eMarketer graph on the right but don’t let that fool you. It is a serious player on the social networking field. MySpace is included in the list, for now. It’s anyone’s guess if they will still be in the game (at least in North America) by the end of the year.
A few others to watch for in 2012 include Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr.
Pinterest and Tumblr are growing at a phenomenal pace and Google+ may still rise from the seeming ashes – remember who birthed the product. It is still early days for Google+ and the possibilities for their future are huge!
Most small businesses are not able to manage a presence on all of these social networking sites. Better to pick the few that will work best for your business and invest time there.
And when I say invest time this means not only the day-to-day maintaining of the sites but to the long-term commitment that, for the vast majority of us, is required in order to see results.
The long-term commitment is important! In a society where instant-gratification is the order of the day, staying the course over a long period of time can be a challenge.
And there are many Facebook Business Pages and Twitter accounts that someone started and are now just taking up space on the internet (no activity) because results didn’t come as quickly as expected. (A colossal waste of time!)
An investment of time and work is needed before results begin to trickle in. Sure, there are examples of overnight or quick successes. But these are exceptions to the rule and in most cases you have to pay your dues before you begin to see results.
The social networking epidemic, and the increase in the number of people with smartphones, will also lead to a greater emphasis on having a solid and mobile-optimized website and the creative use of QR codes (directing people to interesting and quality information, special deals, contests, etc.). And there could be a few other surprises that gain traction in 2012!
All this to say, if you’re not in the social media game yet, don’t wait! Today’s a great day to get started.