If there's one thing I've found from my time working with small businesses, it's that marketing departments in smaller companies have embraced social media just as enthusiastically as enterprises. I looked up the stats (courtesy of BIA/Kelsey), and I wasn't at all surprised to find that three-quarters of small and medium-sized businesses are using social for marketing or promotion. Because why wouldn't they? Social marketing is easy, convenient, affordable, and effective.
What's truly exciting, though, is that we've only just skimmed the surface of social. There's so much more potential we can tap into, so much more that social can do, across virtually every aspect of our businesses. That's as true for small companies as it is for large enterprises.
Here are four ways to start making your company a truly social organization:
1. Recruit the best and brightest -- the smart way.
For companies of all sizes, hiring top talent is a cornerstone of success, but for smaller companies, finding the right fit for your team is downright critical. In the same way that most people find jobs through their contacts, relationships also drive recruiting. To build your social recruiting network, start with people you know. Think former co-workers, current clients, vendors and even friends and family. Hey, you never know where a standout candidate might be found! Obviously, LinkedIn is a natural place to make connections, but don't forget about Twitter. Joining the conversation there can help you build relationships that pay off in top-notch new hires.
2. Offer help where your customers are looking for it.
Something I read a while back has really stuck with me: 67% of people have gone to a company's social media page looking for customer service versus only a third for marketing (J.D. Power and Associates). Social gives you a great opportunity to make customers happy and keep them coming back. So monitor your social media sites for questions or complaints, and make sure you answer them. Be responsive, be friendly, be helpful. That's how you turn one-time customers into lifelong loyalists.
3. Think close to home.
If social can bring people together from all over the world, imagine what it can do for your company. Set up a Facebook group or custom social network, so your team can easily share ideas, collaborate on projects, and keep everybody in the loop on need-to-know info. Better internal communication increases both productivity and employee satisfaction.
4. Put your most powerful advocates to work.
We all know that word-of-mouth recommendations have power. What you might not realize is that people trust your employees nearly as much as they trust your customers. So give your employees a voice. Let them guest blog on your company's site and take part in conversations via your social channels. With their in-depth, first-hand knowledge of your business, employees are a valuable resource that can help you win over customers.
These are just a few suggestions. Take a look at your entire organization and consider where social could play a role. Your bottom line will definitely thank you!
Lauren Vaccarello is a digital marketing thought leader, author and Senior Vice President of Marketing at Sysomos. Her books, Complete B2B Online Marketing and The Retargeting Playbook (Wiley) are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.