by Amanda McMullen, Demand Media
With the rise of social media, many small businesses have had to alter their operational strategies to adapt. Social media affects business of all sizes in several different ways. Because of social media, businesses must make their brands more personal, market their products differently and communicate with customers in new ways.
About Social Media
Social media websites and applications allow users create online communities to share content, such as videos, personal messages, pictures, ideas and other information about themselves. Most forms of social media accept individual users as well as organizations, such as businesses and nonprofit groups. A business’s social media profile may include links to its website, contact information and pictures of products or services the business offers.
Businesses are constantly finding new ways to implement their marketing strategies through social media. Prior to the development of social media platforms, businesses relied on fliers sent through the mail, television commercials and word of mouth. While these marketing tactics are still useful, businesses can now use social media to instantly inform consumers about sales, the arrival of new products and exclusive promotions. Consumers can connect with their favorite retailers online to stay informed about new developments.
Social media also affects the way many retail businesses communicate with their customers. Instead of calling the store, writing a letter or sending an email, many customers prefer to communicate with a business using its social media profile. Customers may send private messages to the business, or they may post information publicly. Customers use social media to provide both positive and negative feedback about products or customer service. If a customer posts this information online, it can affect the opinions of other consumers who are connected to the business’s profile. It’s important for small businesses, especially, to be aware of reviews and other details posted online. Responding quickly on Facebook or Twitter, for example, to resolve a customer problem can actually foster loyalty and improve the company’s reputation.
Social media affects the way customers perceive a business’s brand. Before social media became popular, most customers considered businesses to be impersonal entities. However, social media opened up a new level of dialogue between a business and its consumers. The type of consumers who connect with a business using social media influences the way other potential consumers perceive the business’s brand. For example, if a business that sells sporting goods connects mainly with consumers in their 20s, other consumers are more likely to associate the brand with that particular age demographic.
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