Small business owners know that social networking is important, but devising the right strategy can feel daunting. So, in honour of small business month, Rogers is hosting a nationwide series of talks with leading experts in social media, marketing and more. Ben Kelly, Account Director at LinkedIn Canada, will be speaking at the Toronto Rogers Talks event on Nov. 10. Kelly, who works with Canada’s top telecommunications, media and technology companies to develop digital media, content marketing and social strategies to connect with the LinkedIn audience, shared his tips for engaging with your customers online.
Why do you think small businesses need to have an online presence?
Online presence is essential for small businesses. An online survey of more than 1,400 B2B buyers found that 57% of the purchase cycle is complete before these individuals ever talk to a seller. Businesses that have a presence across multiple channels – desktop, mobile and tablet – will come out ahead. B2B buyers are increasingly looking online to understand capabilities, identify suppliers, read reviews and look for referrals. It’s hard to stand out online if you are nowhere to be found.
What do you think is the biggest challenge right now for small business?
One of the greatest challenges for small businesses owners is deciding where to focus their efforts. This is especially true in how you represent your business and brand in social media. Businesses need to determine what platforms they will concentrate on, what content to post, what resources they will need and how the company will differentiate itself.
How do you think consumer expectations have changed as social media has become more mainstream? How must small businesses adapt?
Social media serves as a major connection point for consumers to small business. It’s not a nice to have, it is essential. Consumers expect that they will be able to connect with a company through social media, serving as the voice of the consumer. People can share their experience with a product or service to other consumers and this can greatly impact business success. Sites like Trip Advisor are a great example of the power of customer reviews. It isn’t enough to have your company logo on a web site with a company description. Small businesses need to be actively engaging on social media and cultivating relationships to deliver the experience consumers expect.
How can small businesses use social media to appeal to the different needs of Generation Y customers and Baby Boomers?
It’s important to know your audience and speak to them in a way that will resonate. That includes considering the social media platform that you are using to reach customers. Not every platform will work for everyone. For example, if small businesses are looking to reach Generation Y, they may concentrate on Twitter, but not Pinterest. If they are looking to reach people in a professional context or generate sales leads, then LinkedIn would be the right fit.
If you were to offer a small business owner just one piece of advice, what would it be? Why?
Don’t be intimidated by social media. The incredible penetration of mobile technology and the critical mass that social media has established has opened up a new world of information accessibility for consumers. Social media can serve as an unbelievable platform for your customers, employees, and advocates to share the story of your business and brand. Decide where you want to focus – what your business needs most – and lay out a plan to engage on that platform.