How to Use Social Media to Engage Small Business Decision Makers

Companies that market to small businesses should actively take advantage of business-to-business social media resources before taking on more IT resource-intensive projects. Some business-to-business social media resources requiring little IT investment include Webinars, podcasts, and company and brand pages on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Rob Feinstein explains how to use social media to most effectively market to small business decision makers.

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Companies marketing to small businesses would be well-advised to first focus on social media tactics that require little IT investment, according to Engaging Small Business Decision Makers through Social Media, a recent study involving 1,711 small business leaders. Using Webinars and podcasts are just two of the social media tactics suggested by the study. Companies marketing to small businesses should also establish a presence on top social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook before pursuing more IT resource-intensive initiatives (such as creating a company-managed online community).

The study found that four of the top five most effective social media tactics for engaging small business decision makers do not require significant IT investment or involvement. Company blogs are the exception. Company blogs should be backed by both a strategic content strategy and the resources necessary to create this content on an ongoing basis. This should be done before IT resources are allocated to blog creation or management.

The study examined the social networks and other social media resources that small business owners and managers turn to for business-relevant information. In contrast to the common perception of social media as inherently "social" or interactive, study participants using social media for business were much more likely to use resources which don't require interaction such as Webinars and podcasts (67 percent) or reading product reviews (63 percent) than they were to participate in online discussions (29 percent).