For Small Businesses, Social Media Is an Efficiency Tool
Small business owners who have yet to get into the social media game may be reluctant because they perceive sites like Facebook or Pinterest to be frivolous. Many see such websites as tools used purely for personal reasons, but the truth is, social media apps and websites can help businesses run more efficiently, connect with potential customers and save time, according to USA Today.
Take the case of Jeff Cooper, CEO of a small business in East Norriton, Pennsylvania. He told the news source that he likes to reach out to customers to congratulate them on special events like weddings, but has a hard time remembering the dates on his own. Being able to contact customers easily is important, since his business has a loyal client base dating back two decades.
Before the internet became an important tool for many small businesses, many would rely on a Rolodex, spreadsheets and other more basic tools to keep track of client information. Now, however, web-based applications like Google Alerts or Red Stamp can help entrepreneurs manage their day-to-day tasks.
Unfortunately, not all businesses have embraced social media. In fact, small, independent businesses are the least likely to sign up for such sites and apps, according to the news source.
"It's more important than ever for small business owners to bridge the gap because they are facing more competition, and this can differentiate them and have them stay relevant with existing customers," Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, told the news outlet.
There are ways, however, that small businesses can be hurt by their social media habits. For instance, many see the tools as useful strictly for self-promotional purposes. This kind of behavior can alienate customers.
Other businesses may be worried that using social media in the office will compromise employee privacy, particularly if they allow workers to use their own devices for business purposes. There are ways to prevent this, according to Concur.com.
Companies with a bring your own device (BYOD) policy should establish concrete rules for how laptops, tablets and mobile phones can be used in the office. For instance, business owners may want to require that workers use a second mobile number while at the office to help them screen out personal calls. Businesses should also educate employees about how their BYOD policy works, and exactly how much data or minutes they can use during office hours.