It’s taken less than a decade for the word ‘like’ to go from a passive compliment you might apply to a slice of cake to the cornerstone of the biggest social media revolution since the phone book.
Facebook and its social media relatives like Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are used by millions of Australians every day. However, these, and myriad of other forms of digital media tools, create unique challenges for small businesses attempting to build a marketing program with often limited resources.
A good place to start is the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s digital media literacy research program, which provides essential information relating to digital media literacy levels in Australia.
CPA Australia social media manager Jillian Bowen then suggests businesses pose a series of simple questions before creating an effective digital media plan. 1
• What do I want to achieve?
• Why will this be more beneficial than other tactics?
• Who is my target audience?
• Where does my audience spend the most time?
• When will I fit this activity into my existing work schedule?
• What is my competition doing in the online space?
“The bigger the business, often the bigger the established audience. For a small or new business, the process of identifying and connecting with an audience is significant so it’s an extra hurdle above and beyond the education, set-up process and ongoing management of their social media presence,” Bowen said.
Director, Andrew Kent of B2B marketing consulting agency Green Hat, said digital media offered many advantages for the small business owner.
“Social media also has a lot to do with personality and personal representation. For a smaller business, the senior managers or founders are often an important part of the brand, so social media is a more natural fit for them,” Kent said.
“But with B2C, you need to consider what sort of business you are and how people find you.”
Certainly for services industries social media is most helpful for creating communities, giving companies another way to converse with customers and provide a better customer experience.
Erica Swallow from leading digital innovation website Mashable also advises that opportunities for small businesses go well beyond a Facebook status update.
“New tools are allowing small companies to efficiently mine data like the big boys; eCommerce on tablets is growing at a staggering rate while niche media properties like blogs and eBooks allow businesses to connect with their target audiences like never before,” Swallow said.
Digital media may not have completely replaced the community noticeboard or Yellow Pages listing, but the opportunities have added some valuable weaponry to the marketing arsenal of the small business.
1 Carly Greenwood, ‘Social media strategies for small business’, 23 August 2012, ITB Digital, viewed
13 December 2012, http://www.itbdigital.com/opinion/2012/08/23/social-media-strategies-forsmall-business/